WORDS: Laura McCarthy
Australia has become a surprise heavyweight for alternative music, with a steady flow of great bands coming from down under for many years. Adding their names to the high class of musicians are progressive metal band TERAMAZE with an altogether different direction from the likes of Australia’s more notorious bands.
Opener An Ordinary Dream is much becoming of a great piece. Creepy, cascadeing tunes open into desolate and haunting melodies before the blast of drums and guitars come into play. The bass is heavy and the music is so sharp with the track encompassing elements of thrash, metal and prog all into one very well constructed song. Vocally, Nathan Preachey reaches some great heights, while the interlude of spoken quote is made all the more poignant by the Dean Wells playing. There are some trance- style synth in the background, which are subtle and put to good use. It doesn’t make the music feel cold, but adds another dynamic. Shifting down to solely keys and vocals by the eleven minute mark, this song as an opener to an album is pretty impressive, with so many changes it feels like a little concept piece all on its own. To Love a Tyrant is yet another soaring, challenging song. There are dark and cold themes and tones going on here that are a million miles from the baking heat of their homeland. Evoking cold sweats and twisting nightmares, this is the theme to inner horrors and stories of doom. This is emotional music as well as very well played, which can often be part of what prog lacks. The same goes for Her Halo, a shorter track that feels more uplifting and ever moving in its tone. There is a sorrowful undertone, but the playing style is much lighter, if no less technically stunning. These guys are not amateurs to their craft, and have a firm understanding of what their musical direction is.
The best tracks on this record are those that feel epic, that leave the mind open to vivid imagery and melodies so fresh that it leaves your stomach clenching. Out of Subconscious is very much one of those tracks, with some very subtle drum playing from Dean Kennedy and some fantastic riffs.
Don’t be discouraged about the often dark and occasionally uneven approach of this album, for those looking for more progressive tunes with an edge, it’s a wonderful record. The great thing about progressive music is that the complicated nature of playing allows for some huge, dynamic lyrical and musical diversity. For the Innocent is yet another heavy hitter, gnarly and full of power and motion, yet melodic and running on a bassline that almost feels funky. It’s hard to pinpoint bass players on records as they often get lost in the mix, but Luis Eguren does a great job at keep this frantic track in balance while the vocals and guitars get very complicated. The overall effect is pretty catchy, which is not what a lot of progressive metal music can boast. This hinges on the fact that there are a lot of purely metal elements with licks of prog in there, and the drive of thrash. To keep a balance like this is amazing, and truly show the competence of the whole band.
Trapeze is different again, but equally enchanting. While it’s easy to put comparisons to other bands like BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, but the most amazing thing with progmetal is that the sounds produced can be completely unique while still following similar formulas. This track being completely instrumental adds another layer to what TERAMAZE can achieve.
Things get a little more disjointed where Broken begins, as a more a toned down rock song. It’s different, but still very moving, with gentle lyrics, and angst filled guitars, the churn of bass and drums giving the solid rhyme that makes a song like this powerful. Very much an old-school rock/metal song, and while there’s some amazing guitar work involved, it’s perhaps not the stand out of the record in terms of consistency in sound, but still pretty decent in its own way.
Delusions of Grandeur brings TERAMAZE back somewhere between the ballad and the prog metal song. This is a better example of what the band might sound like should they approach from a dark, heavy rock or metal angle. As noted, this band can mix and match different elements of different genres, and this is another pretty fair example of that.
It’s interesting with such a new band as TERAMAZE that they should have mastered many techniques, and given some great attempts at others. Nothing on this album feels like filler, and while there are some unusual final choices on the composition of the tracks, essentially what has been produced is a broad collection of sounds from some very talented players. This dynamic really works and it will be very good to see these guys go from strength to strength off the back of this record.
Her Halo is available now via Mascot Label Group