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Tiasu – “Sanctuary” Review

Chiptunes. Heavily Plugged!

As a long-term fan of Tiasu’s work, his brand of chiptune has always been full on and complex with a maddening rush of a never-ending boss battle. With “Sanctuary”, Tiasu takes this a step further by merging full-on stadium rock and heavy metal into his chiptune soundscape. Put simply – this album is plugged!

The title track lays down Tiasu’s intentions with heavy crunching guitars, buzz saw sirens for bass lines and thick chip synths and rock organs hammering out riff after riff alongside guitar solos. It never feels overwhelming and it’s superb how when you listen to it, each side of the music is perfectly matched so that both chiptune and rock lovers can rejoice in harmony. Each track then plays around with the sound. Some are more symphonic like “The Wait”, other’s are a little more indie pop rock like “Buried” – which specifically feels like what Imogen Heap would make if she made a retro rock game.

For the first time, Tiasu also places vocals in the mix. For “Whisper”, “No One’s Home” and “Four White Walls” a layered vocal which would be more suitable for darkwave music is present. Whilst not the most dynamic range is present, actually, the way how the vocals are layered into a slight robotic goth vibe, really makes them work in a drone-like darkness. Think some of Freezepop’s earlier male vocals and you’re there. Elsewhere, riffs and themes are alluded to and weaved in and out – but what stands out is how euphoric and uplifting the album is. Yes, the chords are shredding and splattered in minor notes – but the transitions between darker verses and crowd surfing melodies for the choruses and bridges – you can’t help but get up and let your body go.

“Sanctuary” is quite possibly Tiasu’s finest album to date and it is the perfect choice for a chiptune crossover album. If anyone were to ever say “oh those bleeps will never amount to anything that could move me” – this would be an album I’d play to show them how closed minded and uninformed their views are! *steps down from soapbox*

Recommended track: Sanctuary

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