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WLM Reviews: Teramaze – Esoteric Symbolism

March 30, 2014

Teramaze - Esoteric SymbolismAustralian Progressive Metallers Teramaze return with their 4th full length album, Esoteric Symbolism, on Nightmare Records less than 2 years after their relatively successful breakout album AnhedoniA.  I admit I haven’t heard them before, but these guys are right up my alley combining elements of Prog and Power Metal in a compelling way.  The seamlessly blend tight and interesting syncopated guitar riffs and percussive rhythms, with melodic, yet somewat aggressive vocals, for a unique style of Metal.

Teramaze’s music might be called many things, but the most accurate description for me is engaging.  While the album doesn’t have more than a song or two that really grab me, the name of the game here is consistency.  A lot of solid Prog Metal songs with a clear absence of sub-par music.  There are a number of influences at work here with a nice mix of melody and forceful songwriting.  One track, in particular, explores a Devin Townsend sound, while others remind of Seventh Wonder and even fellow (awesome) countrymen Voyager.

Esoteric Symbolism is one of those albums that is difficult to define or pigeonhole.  Sure, it’s Prog Metal, but really comes across as more than that.  It’s not one that is a simple listen either, demanding the listener’s attention throughout the work.  The songs aren’t terribly complex or complicated, but the structures have enough variation that the band keeps the listener engaged.  The band doesn’t venture into odd time signatures very often, but rely on unique chord progressions, atypical song construction, and those previously mentioned syncopation to make this album very listenable.  Lyrically, Esoteric Symbolism, as you might expect from the title, is far more than the typical Metal fare.

The first proper song isn’t the one I would have chosen as the album opener, but Line of Symmetry is quite good, though not quite as energetic as I prefer for the first track.  It’s no snooze fest – I would just have preferred one of the next several tracks instead.  In fact, the very next song, Transhumanist, is likely my choice to start things off.  The bridge and chorus are immensely likeable and the guitar solo is flat out smoking.  Bodies of Betrayal (again with an excellent chorus) has a modern feel, especially vocally with Brett Rerekura’s alternating crystal clear tenor and rougher, more aggressive delivery.  No growling going on, just a touch of gruffness.  Instrumentally Parallels-Dual Reality is simply killer – excellent interplay among the instruments.  Their talent clearly shines through allowing all of the members to display their musical prowess.  Spawn is all right, but not my favorite track.  One of the less interesting songs here, but it isn’t exactly boring – just on the lower end.

Punishment by Design turns out to be one of the songs I have a greater appreciation for – likely because the chorus (and really the whole song) sounds like it could be right off of a recent Devin Townsend album – try to convince yourself otherwise, but you will be unsuccessful.  This is the highlight song from Teramaze on this album, the pinnacle.  The following track, Dust of Martyrs, isn’t far behind on the likeability scale, though.  Again some modernity creeps in, but the melodies are so well crafted that it retains the ever important entertainment factor.  Oh yeah – the guitar work is once again stellar.  The Divulgence Act is also tremendously enjoyable with respect to the melody and through and through Metal guitar work.  The title track continues the string of compelling Prog Metal, instrumentally awesome and lyrically interesting.

The final trio of songs (numbered with Roman numerals – vi-vii) appears to be linked in concept.  At a total of nearly 23 minutes, it’s also a good stretch of the album.  the first track, Order Out of Chaos, features harsh vocals and a complex structure, blending right in to the next track Darkest Days of Symphony.  This song drags a bit at times, but the dynamics of the building tension are tremendously executed.  The album concludes with In Vitro, a fitting and nearly epic way to end the album.  Very nice songwriting on this track with ebbing and flowing melodies and levels of emotion.

Check out my favorite track, Punishment by Design:

Teramaze is a talented, intelligent, and heavy band.  I now consider myself a fan after just this one album.  They have shown to have the ability to compose and execute interesting and compelling Prog Metal.  I very highly recommend Esoteric Symbolism to fans of the Prog/Power Metal genre and those of you out there looking for Metal that is more than “throw it on in the background”.  This album is in the upper echelons of 2014 so far.  Teramaze is also a must for an appearance at ProgPowerUSA in the near future.

Esoteric Symbolism: 9/10 – Excellent

I hear the sound in a METAL way.

Let me know how you hear it – harley_wlm@zoho.com


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