The thing about legacies is that they haunt you; shaking free of a work of art considered classic, within the circles where it is considered as such, is almost impossible. It’s not really anybody’s fault, it’s just a fact of life. Even if the other side, those consuming your future work, try to break away from that legacy, it’s often impossible. The ideas for which you’re famous insert themselves like the lenses on a pair of glasses, painting their perceptions before their brain has even had time to process the input. These are the stresses under which Good Tiger exists, being the project founded by Derya ‘Dez’ Nagle after The Safety Fire ceased to be.
In certain circles, such as the ones the blog runs in, The Safety Fire are legends; their blend of alternative rock, progressive metal and sheer musical genius will always have an echo. And so, as Good Tiger release their second album, We Will All Be Gone, the comparisons are inevitable; while the first release by the project enjoyed the grace of being the first, the sophomore release is well and truly chained to a narrative and that narrative will get compared to The Safety Fire no matter what anyone does. Which might be a shame, since the projects are so different in their approach to progressive metal and aim to accomplish different things, not to mention the obviously massive influence of one Elliot Coleman (TesseracT, Sky Eats Airplane), a legendary figure in and of himself, and Alex Rüdinger (ex-The Faceless) whose name is just as big.
But, even when such comparisons are discarded, something about Good Tiger’s second release seems to be missing. It’s hard to place your finger on what exactly; Coleman is Coleman and his jazz influenced styling will appeal to those that like it in the past and will turn off those that never could connect with them. For the record, this reviewer loves them; Coleman is one of the most promising and varied vocalists in metal today. But our opening description of him might hold the clue to what this album’s problem is; it just is what it is. It’s a continuation of the Good Tiger sound but it doesn’t add anything more to the story. What you see is what you get, sold progressive metal that’s well written and produced but which somehow lacks an edge.
Inside of these somewhat placid impressions, some points of more freely given praise exist. This is often where Good Tiger depart from the obvious sound that they themselves set. On tracks like the more electronic and mellow “Blueshift” or the heavier “Salt of the Earth”, something cuts through the band’s formula and hits much deeper. On the latter, it might be because Coleman drives himself a bit further, his highs more pronounced and powerful. On the former, it’s the louder bass and an overall more introspective and deep-running vibe to the whole track. Whatever it might be, the middle of the album has some cuts that are definitely worth your time, rising above the norm for Good Tiger.
Which brings us to the bottom line: this is a good album but perhaps not as good as we’d want from such a talented collection of musicians. Moving past the inevitable comparisons to past works, We Will All Be Gone is fine but leaves us wanting. Perhaps somewhere in there is the shape of things to come, a more varied and convincing version of this project. For now, we’ll take whatever Nagle we can and keep hoping that greatness is still within his reach. We’re sure it is, but this release seems to fall a bit shy of it.
Good Tiger was released today, February 9th 2018, via Metal Blade Records. You can head on over here to purchase it.