Tragos - Radix Mendosus
Tragos are relatively new to the death metal scene but are quickly leaving an impression with their debut “Radix Mendosus.” Hailing from France, their work is steeped in mythology themes and their style is almost like technical melodic death metal.
Right from the opening title track, one can definitely hear the heavy bass work, sharp riffs and gruff vocals that will appeal to fans of older Cannibal Corpse or even a bit of Carcass. The music doesn’t really have that brutal edge, but it is harsh enough that it isn’t really anywhere close to a somber touch like Insomnium. One thing listeners will notice is that shift from heavy chugs to more melodic, almost classical passages. Tragos have a tendency to weave in classical sounding guitar/ bass lines here and there, ranging from Mozart to Chopin, which is their trademark. Sometimes it sounds a bit juxtaposition such as on ‘Dusk Inexora’ and other times it seamlessly flows together on ‘Pathopithecus.’ Staying to the core as death metal though the band never truly breaks that old school formation, it is just interesting to hear the mix together.
Some tracks come off more as death metal without too much classical influence, so those looking for heavier opuses will enjoy a track like ‘Devius Doxa’ which thunders through with little room for melody. But then things shift right back to the ‘melodic meets heavy’ with ‘Praecipuos’ which has some very excellent guitar solos that lean more towards the technical side and add more flair to the music. At the same time though some of the riffs sound a bit familiar as if it has been heard before, such as with Trans Siberia Orchestra and their claim to fame for making Christmas music ‘metal as hell.’ ‘Unto Denial’ brings more of the more straightforward metal, but without the melodic influences, it tends to make the track seem a bit stale and repetitive. Finally there is ‘Melostriatum’ which is chock full of classical inspired riffs and churns along with ferocity and some restraint, but is still a beast of a track.
Overall it feels like “Rex Mendosus” goes by a bit quickly (the album doesn’t even hit the 30 minute mark), but it will certainly draw in listeners who enjoy classical music and get to hear the renditions of it done on guitar and bass, along with the mythology inspired lyrics, from the Greek Prometheus to Lovecraftian. While Tragos are attempting to make a huge endeavor by mixing classical with death metal, the effect just doesn’t seem quite as impressive as one would have thought. Maybe it is the stripped down sound and just focus of bass, guitar, and vocals which stay monstrously consistent throughout the album, but when one compares it to the likes of Trans Siberian Orchestra or even Septicflesh which has a massively titanic sound with their orchestral backings, or even August Burns Red and their attempt at making classic Christmas songs sound metal, it sounds like Tragos has quite a bit of work to do. The tracks don’t exactly wow, but they do raise eyebrows for sure when the melodic lines hit. For those looking for death metal that rides the line between old school and melodeath and symphonic (despite there being almost no symphonic presence in the music), “Radix Mendosus” is going to be a fun ride to listen to despite how short it is.
3.5 / 5 STARS