TOURNIQUET - Gazing At Medusa

Tourniquet - Gazing At Medusa

9 songs
45:35 minutes
***** ***


Although they have sold far over 300.000 albums since their inception thirty years ago, Tourniquet have never really seemed to have a huge following in the secular metal world. Their lyrics have had since the beginning overt Christian themes, and to this day, all the lyrics are appended by a Bible quote to explain the meaning of the song. And yet Tourniquet managed in the past to lure famous guest musicians into their line-up: Marty Friedman (Megadeth), Karl Sanders (Nile), Bruce Franklin (Trouble), Chris Jericho (Fozzy), Michael Sweet (Stryper), Doug Pinnick (King’s X) and many more.

Their current tenth album Gazing At Medusa even goes so far as to have former Judas Priest vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens and lead guitarist Chris Poland (Ohm and formerly of Megadeth and Damn The Machine) listed in the line-up, although founding member Ted Kirkpatrick played the drums and bass guitars and long time member Aaron Guerra plays rhythm guitar and is on charge of the harsh vocals.

I followed Tourniquet mostly in the Nineties and the early years of the new millennium, and back then I always liked their progressive mix of thrash and heavy metal that culminated in long, complex compositions on albums that were rarely under one hour long. The previous album Onward To Freedom in 2014 was brimming with guest musicians, and maybe that was why for some reason it lacked coherence somewhat. The new album comes with the core line-up of Kirkpatrick and Guerra, plus the many contributions by Owens and Poland, and therefore guarantee a more homogenous although never monotonous listening experience. The opener Sinister Scherzo is a hard-hitting metal track with a memorable chorus, and it’s Owens' vocal performance that more than once recalls Judas Priest of the Nineties. While Tourniquet’s song are no longer as expansive as they used to be, they are still full of nice little detail work that highlights the band’s progressive outlook. The following Longing For Gondwanaland comes with less speed and more groove, and thus shows a more contemporary side of the band. On Memento Mori, we even get purest second-generation doom metal in the vain of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. Another highlight on the album is the concluding title track where former Journey drummer and backing vocalist Deen Castronovo adds some vocals that bring the song’s mood quite close to the AOR genre, but in a surprisingly pleasant way. How cool would it have been if the three vocalists had collaborated on every song on the album?

When all is said and done, one must admit that Tourniquet’s two classic albums Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance (1992) and Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm (2000) might never be topped again, and yet Gazing At Medusa is a concise but tremendously entertaining album that finds the right balance between progressive playfulness, crushing heavy metal and melodic catchiness. The lyrics might deal for my taste too much with religious topics, but when it comes to the music, Ted Kirkpatrick and his cohorts have been doing things the right way for already three decades.

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