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Teramaze - "Esoteric Symbolism" (CD)

Teramaze - "Esoteric Symbolism" CD cover image

"Esoteric Symbolism" track listing:

1. All Seeing Eye
2. Line of Symmetry
3. Transhumanist
4. Bodies of Betrayal
5. Parallels - Dual Reality
6. Spawn
7. Punishment By Design
8. Dust of Martyrs
9. The Divulgence Act (CD ONLY TRACK)
10. Esoteric Symbolism
11. Order Out of Chaos
12. Darkest Days of Symphony
13. In Vitro

Reviewed by on April 28, 2014

"An enigma in an enigmatic genre, Teramaze has reached a point of singularity, placing itself at the forefront of visceral progressive metal."

When something is meant to be understood by only a small number of people with specialized knowledge or interest, it often carries with it the burden of obscurity. Despite the meaning behind the name, Teramaze's fourth album, "Esoteric Symbolism," this is not the case for this particular album. Sizable enough to be perceived by many as important and richly nuanced enough to reveal layers of complexity to those who dig deeper, this is a rare combination of elite playing, extreme focus, and sonic enormity.

With a surprising amount of gravity achieved, "Esoteric Symbolism" is a wildfire resulting from the spark created by "AnhedoniA," the 2012 album immediately preceding. Two parts Swedish melodic death, three parts British progressive, and one part American straight-up heavy metal, though 100% Australian, never sounded like such a nice mixture of styles. "All Seeing Eye" sets the momentum of the album, beginning with a titan intro that gleefully takes off running with a volley of riffs led by the drums. "Line of Symmetry" introduces the first of Brett Rerekura's vocal lines, which are clean-sung, measured, and even, lashing out at those who obscure and obfuscate. This is to be a lyrical theme to the album, taking aim at restriction and manipulation.

"I cannot be shaken, I cannot be broken" -- The lyrics in "Transhumanist" empower especially when paired with the speedy riffs and effervescent keyboards in this sublime highlight of a song. "Bodies of Betrayal" is a nod to the band's earlier material and carries one of the album's most memorable choruses. Rarely slowing the pace, the vocals counterpoint the speed of the rhythm section, often riding in at half the speed of the riffs. Thankfully, the enunciation of the vocals are atypical for the style, bringing indie/alternative rock inflections with them.

None of the songs clock in under 3 & 1/2 minutes, and most are 4 minutes and over, tending towards being above 5 minutes with the later tracks increasing in length. Much like Porcupine Tree and Anubis Gate, background atmosphere-filling elements are crucial to the songs, lending size to the soundscape. Flying in like a jetliner on that soundscape are the guitar solos, every bit as iconic as the riffs and carrying a considerable amount of feel to them.

An enigma in an enigmatic genre, Teramaze has reached a point of singularity, placing itself at the forefront of visceral progressive metal. "Esoteric Symbolism" deserves a listen from anyone who fancies themselves a fan of the genre, as well as a must-buy for any Nightmare Records die-hards.

Highs: "Transhumanist," "Bodies of Betrayal," and "In Vitro"

Lows: The vocals may take some getting used to by traditional prog metal heads.

Bottom line: A knockout fourth album of vibrant atypical progressive metal.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)