Nostalgia is probably overrated, at least the most common notion of it, the poignant sense that what was is somehow inherently better than what is. It’s a lie of which we are well aware, if we’re honest, and which we willingly allow. Logic says it can’t be true that all the best times preceded real and measurable progress and yet we cling to the past. No tangible aspect of the past, though. What we yearn for is The Past. Nebulous, ephemeral. The particulars of those golden olden days for which we pine aren’t actually the point of nostalgia, after all. It’s the feeling. A deep and personal remembrance of goodness that serves as an anchor in an uncertain present. An apparently experience-based evidence that it can all be good again.
Tanith began with guitarist Russ Tippins, co-founding member of heavy metal legends, Satan, and his bassist pal, Cindy Maynard, playing cover tunes together in UK clubs. The pair realized they had something special and decided to turn it into original music, so they recruited a couple other buds in guitarist, Charles Newton, and drummer, Keith Robinson, and set to make it happen. Tippins and Maynard both sing, so Tanith features two vocalists and two guitarists and the interplay between and among them is a big part of what defines the music they make. There’s a premium placed on harmony, for sure, but each player is also given room to run, to explore, to let fly that free spirit.
Tippins and Newton spend a lot of time running alongside each other like a couple of spirited mustangs on a sunlit mesa, often shoulder-to-shoulder, trading the lead, sometimes drifting apart but never losing sight of one another. They get at it from the jump, opening the album with bright, harmonized melody and then galloping out of it with abandon as “Citadel (Galantia Pt. 1)” sets the stage for all that promised adventure. Tippins and Maynard trade verses and come together for the chorus on “Citadel,” flipping that arrangement for “Book of Changes,” and mixing it up throughout the record. No matter the order of things, Tippins and Maynard always sound like they’re right there next to each other, because they are. In discussing the studio process, Maynard talked about recording vocals with Tippins and made the point that, in addition to being easier, it was a lot more fun to stand and sing together. You can sure hear it. They sound free and easy, impassioned and energized. That energy is palpable than on “Cassini’s Deadly Plunge,” In Another Time’s best track, in which the singers are boosted by wonderfully pulsating bass lines and radiating riffs. The uptempo break that chronicles the doomed craft’s descent through Jupiter’s violent atmosphere epitomizes the band’s adventurous spirit.
In Another Time’s production approach plays as important a role in its success as any of the players and even the songwriting, as it’s the first and foremost marker of the album’s intent to transport the listener back there to that other time. Guitar tones are strong and rough, but also warm and bright, while Newton’s bass has a relatively tight and round feel to it, providing buoyancy beneath the melody makers. Robinson’s drums are made to feel just a little soft, saturated, while the cymbals ring brightly. And it’s all filtered through the gentlest layer of haze to settle it into that classic 70s analog sound. Wrap that sound around the twin guitars and vocals, interweave it with amazing melody and harmony and it’s no surprise that these songs are reminiscent of some of the 70s greatest melodic rockers, including Thin Lizzy and Blue Oyster Cult, but especially Wishbone Ash. It’s important to note, too, though, that Tanith absolutely owns their sound and songs. Of course it’s derivative – it’s supposed to be – but in the most loving and respectful way and with a voice all its own. That quality lets Tanith slot right in there alongside some of our own era’s best and most wistfully romantic heavy rock and metal bands, like Hammers of Misfortune, High Spirits, and Corsair.
“Cassini’s Deadly Plunge” capture’s Tanith’s essence, for sure, but it’s mid-album pick-me-up “Under the Stars” that best reflects their ethos. It’s a bouncy rocker with joyful vocals trading the lead with joyful guitar play and it’s all about, well, being outside, under the stars. This is Tanith espousing the power of happy memories. There’s plenty of evidence that kids who go camping turn into adults with happier memories of their childhood. Getting back to nature, returning to something older, is good for us. We know our memories aren’t exact, because new experiences shape the depth and details of what we recall. At the same time, the quality of experience that spawned those old memories also sets the filter through which our memories are viewed later. That’s the nostalgia that Tanith embraces; it remembers the best of the 70s as if it were happening now, a reminder to all of us that rockin’ In Another Time feels just as good today as it did way back then.