Review CHARLIE GRIFFITHS ‘Tiktaalika’

Charlie Griffiths musical mothership is Haken, the British progressive metal band. Next to that, Griffiths worked on his solo debut that will be released in June this year. ‘Tiktaalika’ is the title of an album that comes with surprises more than a strange album title only.

What one could expect is a solo album that steers the spotlight towards guitar skills and sure, the six-string guitar plays an important role during these 53 minutes. But of you guess that ‘Tiktaalika’ is a gently swinging rock album, you might need to adjust the expectations already during the first song.

‘Prehistoric Prelude’ kicks off the album and it isn’t indeed the loud blast that leaves the speakers. The calmer tones are more of an introduction before things get heavier after a bit. This wasn’t the only twist since the tune ends as a massive thrash metal assault and hereby frame the sound of this longplayer in great fashion.

The label info describes the music as “old- school 80s thrash, 90s tech-metal and alternative rock“ and it is right on the money. What starts promising finds with ‚Arctic Cemetery‘ an excellent continuation. Immense riffs, wild screams and tangible clean vocals are the key elements of this very dynamic sounding song.

‘Tiktaalika’ is a concept album and in case you want to know about where the title comes from you can have a look here. Griffiths takes the lyrically inspiration from evolvement of planet earth over millions of years – from fossilization to transformation and humanity. The guitarist penned the lyrics for the album, and he could, rendered by Tommy Rogers (Between the Buried And Me), Danïel De Jongh (Textures), Vladimir Lalić (Organised Chaos) and Neil Purdy (Luna’s Call).

Next to the guitar, Griffiths also played bass and also premiers as singer on ‚Digging Deeper‘. Jordan Rudess supports with his excellent keyboard play, adding to the dense sound of the album which includes the title track, which is an 8-minute instrumental. It is Griffiths guitar that sings in all different variations, from soft and tangible to heavy and loud. Especially towards the end of ‘Tiktaalika’ the passion for thrash metal breaks through and leads to a blistering ending of a great instrumental. There is so much versatility embedded in this song that vocals would be a distraction. Massive that is how ‘Crawl Walk Run’ can be described, also due to De Jongh’s shouting vocals. This song includes no compromise and shows the aggressive side of this longplayer. ‘Under Polaris’ is the final track of the album and another raging metal furioso that picks up the main theme of ‘Arctic Cemetery’.

‘Tiktaalika’ is a versatile metal album that combines many influences on a well-sounding experience for listeners. Melody, skills, and a great sense for good songs is what melts with the passion for different metal genres. This album combines the dots. The result is a thundering longplayer that will find many friends out there.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Prehistoric Prelude
  2. Arctic Cemetery
  3. Luminous Beings
  4. In Alluvium
  5. Dead in the Water
  6. Digging Deeper
  7. Tiktaalika
  8. Crawl Walk Run
  9. Under Polaris

Label: Inside Out Music

Genre: Progressive Metal

Release Date EU: June 17th, 2022

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