Tarot have been going for twenty five years, and to celebrate the quarter century since Spell of Iron, we have the re-recording with the excessively imaginative title of Spell of Iron MMXI, because anything else wouldn’t let you know it’d been recorded in 2011.
I’m usually very wary of re-recordings, you only have to see how Manowar and Exodus have cocked it up. However, Tarot hugely benefit from a modernisation of their sound, the guitars in particular which now have a delightfully aggressive modern crunch that blends with Marco Heitala’s gravely vocals. Dancing On The Wire uses the same annoying techno synth that popped up Hammerfall’s Infected; you wonder if someone’s getting a fat sack of cash for it in the background, because it continues on Back In The Fire.
When the keyboards aren’t being stupid, they’re lining the background with a smooth Hammond groove in Never Forever with its Deep Purple mannerisms before crashing into the classic title track itself. It’s a slight shame Tarot were never huge in their early days, or at least become recognised until Marco joined Nightwish/Sinergy (depending on your elitist meter), as every song is a stone cold classic, from the headbanging Midwinter Nights through to the menacing Wings of Darkness.
Spell Of Iron MMXI hugely benefits from the studio visit, especially considering some of the band’s more recent output hasn’t been up to par, and breathes eerie new life into Things That Crawl At Night. While the original recording is probably the standard to which all the band’s later works are judged against, Tarot now boast a second vocalist and lead sampler which only emphasises the nuances of atmosphere that can be lost with the standard six piece lineup.
A thoroughly solid record, and a reminder that not all bands back in the eighties were trawling for pussy like animal shelters after Christmas.