Taskaha - Taskaha

Kev Rowland

One day I received a message through ProgArchives from Ole Martin, the drummer from Gentle Knife, asking if I would be interested in hearing the debut album from another band he was involved with. Given how much I enjoy Gentle Knife, I of course accepted and here I am now listening to the first release from Taskaha. The line-up is completed by Rick Holmen (vocals), Stian Dahl (guitars), Simen Hanssen (guitars) and David van Dort (bass), and together the quintet has produced an album which is often within the neo-prog genre, while also stepping into prog metal, all without the use of a keyboard player (there are a few backing chords here and there, but that is all). The twin guitarists are obviously linked in, while the bass often plays between them and the drums, creating an additional melodic layer while Ole is also rarely settled into set patterns, providing additional fills and breaks. This means there is an awful lot going on behind the vocals, which are simply superb. Rick has a clear and clean style, which allows him to go through a range of styles and notes without any sense of force, always relaxed. That he sings in clean unaccented English also adds to the appeal, and when he scats on “Distressed” all the listeners can do is smile.

This is a very clean album in terms of production, yet never sterile as there is a drive from the rhythm section which keep pushing it forward, and then Stian and Simen either play as one, allow the other to take the lead, or go into joint complexity. For all that, this is essentially a very easy album to listen to, with the band having taken influences from the likes of Porcupine Tree, Muse, Dream Theater, IQ, Pallas, and Aragon, yet have turned that into something quite different with an approach which allows the listener to really embrace the music. One is never sure when harmony vocals are going to come in, or when the guitars are going to totally change their approach, as each song is packed full of sections even though there is only one lengthy number on the album (closer “The Climb” at thirteen minutes). This is a very classy debut, and one which many progheads are really going to enjoy. Definitely worth seeking out.

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