TERAMAZE – Her Halo (2015)
Formed in Australia all the way back in 1993, TERAMAZE have a long history with four albums under their belt (the last presented on the blog). “Her Halo” is the band’s fifth effort, a powerful and well-polished prog metal effort that sees the band drawing the appropriate balance between songwriting and technicality with the result that the eight-track, fifty-five-minute album passes in the merest blink of an eye.
Throughout “Her Halo” moments arise where you can marvel at the band’s instrumental prowess, but unlike, say, Dream Theater, who occasionally seem to revel in their instrumental excess a little too much, Teramaze take a much more nuanced approach, offering up a beautifully honed and emotive album in the process.
Sometimes there’s no better place to start than, well, the start. And the start of this CD is “An Ordinary Dream (Enla Memento)”. If you do nothing else in 2015 listen to the damn thing. You should do this because it’s incredible. And you should do this to see if you like Prog Metal at all.
If you don’t like this song then the chances are you won’t enjoy the genre, because it’s ambitious, superbly well played and yes, ever so slightly grandiose and pompous – which means in the world of the most overblown section of metal that everything is as it should be.
“An Ordinary Dream (Enla Memento)” clocks in at over 12 minutes in length and, as you might expect, it morphs frequently during its life to create arguably the most complex composition on the record.
It begins quietly before exploding into a track with real power, in part due to the cracking work undertaken by talented Jacob Hansen, who has twiddled the knobs with panache yet again. The central riff and strong hook-laden chorus are deceptively catchy and infectious.
The vocals are clean – indeed new singer Nathan Peachy does a brilliant job throughout – but the riffs are too modern for that fact not to be noticeable, “Out Of Subconscious” for example, is not the work of a retro type band who wants to plough the same furrow as others. Rather they’d quite like to make their own mark.
And, although the first song is the obvious pick of the bunch, work like the stunning “To Love A Tyrant” isn’t far behind, as Dean Wells (now the bands sole guitarist) really excels.
If much of the album has been heavy and all consuming affairs, then the third of this wonderful eight songs shows their lighter side – at least initially. Title track “Her Halo” starts as a suave, acoustic strum, a soaring chorus recalls Queensryche at their best.
This composition demonstrates the band’s ability to draw on the full-blooded power of metal and the addictive melodic nature of pop to deliver a piece that recalls latter-day Spock’s Beard with its multi-tracked vocals and adventurous riffs, all bombastically accessible.
Another personal favourite is the acoustic-led ballad “Broken”, very commercial and almost poppy. It is another stunning track that benefits from more great vocals from Peachey as well as the introduction of an acoustic guitar that features pretty much from start to finish.
I love the chorus and the idea of introducing it initially in a form that’s just piano, acoustic guitar and vocals is inspired; it demonstrates how strong the melody is, without any of the more metallic fripperies. That said, when the chorus hits later, along with another emotional ad technically adept lead guitar solo, it sounds even better. This is possibly one of the stand-out songs from 2015 in my opinion.
The album ends with “Delusions of Grandeur”, a track that sees the band range across the breadth of their influences in ten impressive minutes. With the synth orchestration cleverly arranged, the band maintain a lighter touch that sees the emphasis remain with the song, and, despite the length of the album, Teramaze do successfully leave the listener wanting more.
Putting things clear that some of the best Prog Metal arrives from Australia, Teramaze have staked a very strong claim to feature within my end-of-year ‘best-of’ list. Any record that can deliver such satisfyingly crunchy metal and blend it with great poppy melodies without it sounding overblown or cheesy has to receive high praise.
And Teramaze deserve all the plaudits for “Her Halo” because it’s simply wonderful.
01 – An Ordinary Dream (Enla Momento)
02 – To Love, A Tyrant
03 – Her Halo
04 – Out of Subconscious
05 – For The Innocent
06 – Trapeze
07 – Broken
08 – Delusions Of Grandeur
Nathan Peachey – Vocals
Dean Wells – Guitars
Luis Enrique Eguren – Bass
Dean Kennedy – Drums