Whenever something that comes underneath the surface from either the Progressive Rock or Symphonic Metal genre, I know that something special awaits for me. And one of those up-and-coming bands that have really taken me by surprise is another band from Israel alongside Orphaned Land, Aperco, Ninet Tayeb, and Ahvak, is Tillian. Launched in 2014 from Tel Aviv, Tillian is the brain child of Leah Marcu.
Taking inspirations between Ayreon, Pain of Salvation, Gentle Giant, and Kate Bush, Marcu wrote it as if it was a solo album around the concept of alchemical transformations of the self. What she wanted to do was exploring those inner progressions; love to pain, pain to beauty, beauty to spirit, and spirit to love. It started to transform itself as Tillian.
And with help from Orphaned Land’s producer Erez Yohanan along with some hand-picked musicians while being mastered by Forrester Savell who worked with Karnivool. Alongside Leah who does the vocals, the line-up from the recording considers alongside Leah herself; Alexandra Marcu on Cello, Yadin Moyal on Guitars, Yoav Weinberg on drums, bassists Yanai Avnet and Alon Shulman on two tracks, and keyboardist Lior Goldberg.
Lotus Graveyard is their debut released this year. It is such a killer release for a band that’s delivering not just the goods, but combining metal, prog, and ominous haunting melodies, Tillian have unleashed an amazing debut. From the opening track of Reborn featuring the crossover sections between nylon strings, piano, and haunting electric guitars between Yadin, Alexandria, and Lior, walks down this twisted corridor to give Leah a chance to shine.
Her vocals resembles Within Temptation’s Sharon Den Adel and Anneke van Giersbergen as she rises from the ashes by becoming X-Men’s answer to the Dark Phoenix as she sings the line “Will I wither like all roses?/Will I forfeit my own cry?/But the blackness held its silence/The golden scales in perfect balances.” When she sings that section in the song, the music becomes this nod towards Muse’s Absolution as she tips her hat to Matt Bellamy’s arrangement.
The sections on Touched between the piano, moog, and classical structures by giving Leah a chance to spread her wings while Yadin’s guitar goes into the nylon strings into a battering ram line on his electric guitar with some heavy riffs while she channels her inner vision of Kate Bush as if she had sung for Gentle Giant by making her vocalizations go up a notch.
Yadin channels the bands between Judas Priest, Deep Purple (MKII), and Iron Maiden with some arpeggiated fast-driven lines and riffs for a short minute on Caught in your Slought while I’m Too Close tackles the themes dealing with obsession and domestic abuse. Leah’s vocals and Yadin’s guitar goes through the ascending mountains as you can imagine the woman herself going through this struggle to escape after being tormented by this person’s obsession and abuse towards her.
It’s not an easy subject to tackle, but the intensive arrangements makes this woman’s point of view to being free and escaping from the torment she was going through, but the moment she goes to sleep, he will haunt her in her dreams for the rest of her life.
Black Holes goes into full speed between Yadin’s riffs, Goldberg’s keyboards, and electronic drum sounds that have a trip-hop effect as the gates open up with the vocals and chords rising from the grave. It delves into a spaghetti western waltz before heading back into the territories of Gentle Giant as the tidal wave crashes down the cities with a mighty crash.
And it gives the band members some free-rein to have the waves to crash even more to hit those powder kegs at the exact moment they explode with a big gigantic bang. And then that gates open up even more on Love or Heaven for the battles to begin as guitars and drums go in full throttle with the bullets go into some rapid firing with snarling vocals thanks to Shachar Bieber (not related to Justin, mind you).
While I’m not crazy about the snarling voices from Shachar, but after Leah sings, she gives Shachar a chance to deliver those beast-like vocals as he is ready to raise hell even more to give Leah a chance to hit those notes on a big massive scale. Earth Walker is a nod between Iamthemorning and Steven Wilson’s Grace for Drowning. Leah channels the vocal arrangements of Marjana Semkina on the closing track.
Alexandra, Lior, and Yadin sets up this aftermath from the battle which has now become a massive bloodbath while delving into the atmospheric sections of Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht. Alexandria closes up the book to give Lior a chance to wait at the exact moment for Leah raising her arrangements on her vocals.
This took me about two listens to delve into Tillian’s Lotus Graveyard. And the moment I listened to this from start to finish, I was completely spellbound that they’ve brought the genre of both Progressive Metal, Classical Music, and Symphonic Metal with a gigantic crunch by bringing them into one. I hope they continue to do more because the yellow brick road for Leah and her bandmates, have only just begun to follow in Dorothy’s footsteps.