Tau Cross - Tau Cross (Relapse)

A seething mess of febrile, histrionic sonic glory...
Release Date: 
18 May 2015 - 11:30pm

Good god almighty. As soon as I saw the first reports of the possibility of a connivance between Rob ‘The Baron’ Miller of Amebix fame and drummer Michel ‘Away’ Langevin of Voivod, I began badgering Metal as Fuck Generalissimo Scott Adams for a copy of the album when it was ready for review. Always a gentleman, always good to his word, he sent me the album despite wanting to review it himself.

And then silence.

That’s silence from me, you understand, as for the last six weeks I’ve been living, breathing and generally celebrating this album’s very existence. Album of the year? Certainly. Album of the decade? Very possibly. Album of the century? At this point, I can see no evidence to contradict such a statement.

Now the time has come to communicate my admiration for this record, yet I struggle to find the words adequate to do it justice. To my mind, Tau Cross is the apotheosis of crust, the final victory of everything that oft-maligned genre has striven for, distilled into just under an hour of near-perfect sonic assault. In many ways it sounds like an extension of the last Amebix album, 2011’s massive Sonic Mass, and yet it so far outshines that effort that comparisons or connections are pretty redundant. Obviously Miller’s heroic croak bestrides both albums, giving a link between the two, but everything else is just… more. I have never heard an album that so perfectly gives flesh to my idea of what the perfect album would sound like. The roar emotion of Miller’s lyrics and voice, melding together acts like Killing Joke and New Model ArmyWe Control the Fear is a gargantuan mixture of those two acts at their peak yet sounds bigger, more vital in this setting than either – is the touchstone, yet no one in this band is outshined by the man, everyone contributing just what’s required to bring off an all-conquering album that you simply have to hear.

Whilst the band is undoubtedly some sort of extreme music supergroup – guitarists Jon Misery (of hardcore Titans Misery) and Andy Lefton (War/Plague) bring their own aeons of experience and brilliance to the mix too – the non-specific nature of their music renders simplistic tags such as ‘punk’ or ‘crust’ actually pretty redundant. You People sounds like Killing Joke doing their damndest to bend the legend of Led Zeppelin to their own will, whilst the most ouit and out ‘punk’ tracks on offer – the motoring Stonecracker and the creakingly, chuggingly melodic Prison, actually squeeze the pips out of what you’d understand of the term, taking that essence and reinvigorating it through their own peculiar prism, to present a new, wholly vital take on the word, the genre, the whole nine yards. Yes, this music is old school in every respect and yet never has such a fresh sound represented the traditions of the music voiced under its brooding black wings.

If I’m pushed, the folkier numbers work within the format best for me. It’s here that the bucolic ache and anger of Miler’s voice works best, on songs such as Sons Of the Soul, the link back to the English Folk tradition of ballads and protest feels strong within Miller’s tortured croak of a voice, stirring deep-held feelings and beliefs that most musics these days merely only hint at. That said, there’s not much to touch the band in full flight either, with the rattlingly good Hangman’s Hyll and album opener Lazarus coming close to winning ‘track of the album’ status. But that accolade goes to closer, the contemplative, dark, menacing The Devil Knows His Own, which ends the album perfectly.

I could go on, but there doesn’t seem much point., This band far outstrips my talent for writing, so I simply step back, bow almost imperceptibly, and take my leave. Nigh-on perfect.