If a thousand monkeys pounding at a thousands keyboards will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare then can it be assumed that five hundred monkeys pounding on five hundred instruments will produce a half-way decent progressive rock album? Many progressive bands seem to subscribe to this notion. The industry is very saturated with artists trying to reinvent the wheel with notions that tracks do not have follow any conventions. Which is where I tend to attest that random sounds is not music.
This is not the case with Tame until Hungry. Many types of different music lovers should be able to find a song that fits their preferred genre. While the album mixes many different types of styles, incorporates several different instruments and vocal distortions, Tame Until Hungry never pushes the envelope too far. Each song is definitely music, and also well balanced music that preserves the traditional dignity of song structure while introducing new obscure twists.
Track one, “No Tears Left for Cryin’”, serves as a perfect microcosm for the rest of the album. Its somber beginning soon shifts into more powerful guitars and vocals. This opening track displays a series of mood changes that mirrors the album as a whole.
This concept should be blatantly obvious after the first notes of the second track plays. “The Solution,” opens with fast tempo, demanding guitars, and vocals to match. This is progressive rock at its best. The “in your face” rock style is woven together with an interplay of heavy chords and soaring keyboards that mix with voice changes and different instruments that create a truly full sound.
Once this six minute gem closes out, the mood changes again. “Civilized Dog’s” harmonica intro and southern porch stomping sound is another excellent 180º that the album takes. This track is a comfortable little folksy song that will stick in your head and is ideal to either sing along with it or enjoy as background in a coffee house.
Track four is an easier transition. Its somber jazzy sound provides a more fluid track transition. This song, “One Dark Angel,” presents more of a mainstream sound than any of its neighboring tracks. However, little features, such as the soothing saxophone outro helps it maintain its uniqueness.
Track five, “Mourning Glory”, was the album’s edgiest track. This was the only song where the change-ups felt distracted and sometimes forced. The perfect balance, which the rest of the album maintained, was a bit off kilter on this one.
The next song, “Bloodstone”, returns the album to a more controlled sound. This song unleashes cosmic keyboards that rise from acoustic instruments. The mood swings are nothing less than a wild ride, but somehow it presents a much more smoother sound than “Mourning Glory.” “Bloodstone” is a standout track, a keeper.
“Broken Hallelujah,” is another interesting check point in the album that will grab the listener’s full attention. This song, the album’s seventh track, comes at the listener with a deep, sincere, mystical, and spiritual sound. Organs rise from perfect simplicity and strong guitars provide excellent timed breaks, including a powerful outro. “Broken Hallelujah,” with its strong guitars and trance-like vocals is hard to ignore.
Another song worth mention is track nine, “Inside my Mind.” While at the surface it appears to be nothing more than a somber ballad with some minor tone changes there is still something very inviting about this song. It has an interesting element of 80ish sound with a great kaleidoscope of string plucking. “Inside my Mind” is worth a listen if nothing else.
The album’s finale is an odd choice. It is a little tune called “Every time we say goodbye.” This song plays like a parody of an early 40’s hit, a lost track from the Casablanca soundtrack even. Some may find this one out of place, but somehow it works as a fitting end.
The three tracks I left unmentioned: “Heart and Mind,” “Limbo and Flux,” and “Rainbow Asylum” all lack the ability to standout. While they all maintained that inviting sound, which flows through the rest of the album, these songs do not have the uniqueness that the other tracks do.
These songs are repetitive and their mood swings start to feel predictable. This monotony is most noticeable with “Heart and Mind” and “Rainbow Asylum” that both employ the same heavy guitar outros, which has become a played out motif at this point in the album.
The above, however, are minor complaints about a well put together and diverse album. It’s worth repeating that this album should have something to please just about every music lover. It may not be able to boast the claim that it reinvents music as we know it, but Tame Until Hungry remains Progressive Rock at it’s best, the traditional elements of song with just enough random spices to keep the listeners’ taste buds watering.