Taenarius is the solo project of Benji Ryder. The metal guitarist has brought together Hamish Dickinson on the drums alongside a trio of guest singers to help bring his songs to life and to our ears. It’s heavy, it’s fun, and it’s an excellent first review for this site for 2022! Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Opening track ‘Riptide’ starts off with a bang, a huge chord and cymbal crash, showing off the heaviness and production of the album immediately. No holding back. It then soon rips (yes, I’m back guys) into a fantastic, groovy guitar riff. It is the first of four tracks to feature new Miscreant vocalist Miles Kent, and he does a fantastic job. His powerful, gritty vocals fit perfectly over the top of the awesome guitar work and steady drums. The harmonies on the pre and chorus were also great, the double-tracked vocals adding a layer of epicness to it all. It’s also massively catchy, the instruments opening up perfectly. Of course, knowing Benji, the guitar solo is awesome. Both technical but also emotion-filled and giving the notes time to breathe, the guy is one hell of a lead player. We then head into a final chorus and the great riff to close us out. A fantastic track to start us off!
Next up is the single, ‘Hypnotized’! Another huge riff opens this one up, even heavier and groovy than the last. Miles’ vocals fit even better here as well, dropping lower to match the guitars and bass. He even adds in a perfect scream at the end of each stanza. It also leads to another massively catchy pre and chorus. The gaps in the former and the harmonies in the latter are some of the catchiest stuff I’ve heard in a while. The solo was a lot more blues-oriented this time round, at least at first playing between the rhythm jabs. As the band kicked back in Benji let loose for another fantastic rest of a solo. We then again get a final chorus to take another great song home! This easily makes the playlist!
Rhys Davies takes the vocal duties on this next one, ‘Everything That I Am’. It opens on a bluesy riff, lighter but arguably more technical than the previous ones. Before long it blasts into the distorted, awesome wall of sound when the rest of the band join in. It was nice to have that shift in dynamic for a bit though! It’s a GREAT riff too. Rhys was the right choice for this song too, his vocals fit perfectly over the top of the faster but less chunky riffs. The guitar and vocal sound combine to almost give off a heavy grunge vibe to it. Think early Nirvana, Soundgarden, and even a slight pinch of Primus. The chorus isn’t as massive as the previous two but feels like the most straight-up rock of them all so far. The solo also fits the song’s style and energy perfectly, definitely heading for more of a Slash-feel. The album is three for three so far with awesome songs! This one will also make the playlist, if for nothing else than the amazing outro on top of everything else!
The other track to feature Rhys is another bluesy style song, ‘Thunder’. It opens pretty interestingly with drums and then a bass riff, but it’s the effect on both that felt interesting to me. Both were great, but both sounded rather far away or even muted slightly. It was a cool effect but I’m not sure if it was for me. The rest of the band kick in with the riff, adding LOTS of heaviness to it and giving it a southern, biker-like sludge. The riff carrying on between vocal lines for the verse was a great touch, keeping things heavy while giving the lyrics space to breathe. It then heads into a surprisingly uplifting, higher chorus, and I love it. The harmonies work perfectly on the vocals to create maybe the best, catchiest chorus on the album. The higher vocals in the double choruses were also awesome, even taking some inspiration from indie music by the sounds of things. It drops back down to just bass for a bit before exploding into an even heavier breakdown. Then of course, it leads to a sweet, sleazy solo. Said solo also acts as the outro of the track, it being a fitting, perfect ending to my favourite track on the album. Playlisted!
‘Tie Dye the Sea’ and ‘Primal’ are two more from Miles. Both are two more great tracks. The solo in the former is maybe the best on the album, while the main riff for the latter is my favourite riff on the album. It feels ripped right from a Black Label Society song, and honesty when the Talk Box came in it was honestly amazing. It gives it a real early 2000s metal feel to it. However, I find myself at a lack when it comes to other things to talk about with the tracks that I haven’t already said previously. Both are great songs in their own right and definitely have their standout moments, but are up against stiff competition on this album!
Finally, we reach the cover, sung by Stagefright’s own Richard Jinx, of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ballad ‘Simple Man’. It’s a great cover, capturing the heart and sound of the original while still being distinctive in its own right. It heavys it up just enough to keep it interesting and Jinx’s country-blues voice of course fits the track perfectly. It’s among tough competition when it comes to the best versions of this track, but it’s up there!
Overall: This was fantastic! What an album to start the year on! Seven fantastic tracks from Benji and his friends, and a great way to debut your solo stuff to the world. It’s a great, modern metal style that could catapult the guy far in this business, as it should!
The Score: 8/10