Having endured over 20 years, Tantric is probably one of the most clear-cut examples of pure post-grunge in 2021. Rooting back to the band’s acoustic beginnings with Days Of The New, they’ve continuously stuck to a formula in keeping with the industry with just enough idiosyncrasy to give them a bit of distinguishability at the same time. If any major shift has occurred in Tantric’s bandspan it’s the protracted lineup shuffle that went on from the mid-2000’s up to 2017 when bassist Scott Wilson left for Saving Abel, and who knows, there might be another shift sometime in the near future. For now, Hugo Ferreira has a comfortable lineup for himself and the band’s latest LP The Sum of All Things, along with its predecessor Mercury Retrograde are the product of that roster thus far.
So how about that latest record? The opener “Alone” offers some standard aughts-rock fare with bluesy grit and gruff, as does the next track “Walk That Way”. “Twisting and Turning” leans more into contemporary metal, while the ballad “Can’t Find This” veers off the course to an uncharacteristic edge (it could just be the sharp contrast of Ferreira’s vocals over tender piano chords though). “Living Here Without You” zings back the other way in Five Finger Death Punch fashion while “Take Me I’m Broken” is chock full of the same Staleyan harmonious yarls that earned Tantric enduring comparisons to Alice In Chains, for better or worse. “The Words To Say” and “Compound” are less standout-ish; the melodic “Pushover” picks it up again and “Ten Years” throws in some of the old Days Of The New acoustic flavour that the band originated from. We get a bit more AIC-style crunch with the title track, then besides two re-recordings of “Breakdown” and “Down And Out” the bonus track “Whiskey and You” caps off the album, throwing a country element into the mix to end with some variety.
What you get on The Sum of All Things is a band that’s trying to catch up while searching for or trying to maintain some uniqueness at the same time. A big chunk of this record is stuck in the aughts with some pieces of today’s typical rock sound scattered about here and there; if Tantric are comfortable putting out their product and having their core fanbase appreciate it then so be it, but if they want to thrive in the present soundscape a lot more freshening up and figuring out needs to be done. Whatever path they pick is up to them and best of luck to them doing it, there’ll be somebody there to like it either way, it’s just the grey area in between you can’t occupy forever.