Tarot is the latest release from Ottawa metal band Destroy Clocks. Combining bits of post-metal, shoegaze, and black metal, Tarot isn’t going to be for everybody, but I certainly enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect album, but if you’re looking for some metal with a sense of atmosphere, give this album a listen.
You’re going to know whether or not Destroy Clocks are your kind of band right off the bat. Guitarist and vocalist Kevin N. Hell has a… let’s just call it unique voice. It sounds like a mix between a black metal vocalist and, at the risk of sounding painfully Saskatchewanian, To Keep Me From Sinking-era Means. I’m certain that this can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel it fits the project well enough, especially when singing underneath vocalist and keyboardist Nicole Lefebvre’s calmly delivered melodies.
Tarot opens up with the song “Pale Horse,” not what I would consider the strongest on the album, but a solid enough track nonetheless. Although this song was not a favourite, it does let you know a little bit of what you’re in for; sinister guitars, pummeling drums, and melodic keyboards. One of the best combinations of these elements was the song “Halifax Myst.” The track’s galloping beat and repetitive, but sinister, guitar and keyboard lines kept the song interesting throughout.
My favourite track on the album is “Nervous System,” a long, sparse song centred around a straightforward chord progression. The song leaves a lot of open space for the simple keyboard melody to get stuck in your head. While it’s impressive to hear drummer Tyler Black’s intense style on songs like “Throwing Shade,” his relaxed playing on this track lends to the atmosphere that Destroy Clocks are going for. I was also a fan of the band’s choice to have Lefebvre, or at least I assume it’s her, lend some screams to the track and help add some variety to the album.
Despite the high points that Destroy Clocks exhibit on this album, Tarot is not without its problems. It’s not normally a complaint that I would have, but I didn’t feel that the production value totally suited the album. The album isn’t the slickest sounding by any means, but it is a little bit more polished than expected. I would have preferred that the band either embrace the higher production value and add in additional guitars and other elements to take up some sonic real estate or opted for a more lo-fi sound. This might not be an issue for everybody and it’s not nearly enough for me to write the album off, but it did take me out of the listening experience on a few occasions.
Destroy Clocks are not going to be the band for everybody. There isn’t a tonne of riffs that you can really sink your teeth into and I think the vocals are likely going to be a hurdle for some listeners. These elements aside, I think the band has achieved a cool atmosphere with Tarot.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Mike Milito