Teramaze – Esoteric Symbolism
Teramaze- Esoteric Symbolism (2014)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
I’ve been mulling over this declaration for a few months now, but I think it’s time to formally recognize the renaissance of progressive metal in Australia. While Teramaze’s latest effort, Esoteric Symobolism, isn’t on quite the same playing field as Voyager’s The Meaning Of I, it’s a tremendous improvement over the already very good AnhedoniA. My thoughts on Aussie prog have now moved past “There’s a lot of cool bands down there” to “There is clearly something in the water.” Esoteric Symbolism builds on the style present in AnhedoniA: namely fast-paced, riffy progressive metal with thrash leanings and a heavy emphasis on distinct rhythm patterns.
What’s changed, in essence, is that everything good about AnhedoniA has now been sharpened to excellence here. While I enjoyed the energy that Teramaze has been able to create in the past, I am now completely enraptured. I routinely enjoyed AnhedoniA, but it was always held at arm’s length for having, at times, the barest of prog credentials. Esoteric Symbolism isn’t as filled with heart-pounding riffs, but the experience is overall more engaging, and has a much stronger replay value.
Certainly, the DNA of heavy, thrashy progressive metal is still present. Rhythm guitars remain the driving force of every song, but where in the past the band was inclined to support a song entirely on its worthy guitar muscle, Teramaze now drops that flex to give its work more breathing room. “Punishment By Design”, a composition that would have felt right at home on the previous album, has a far more significant vocal presence than most offerings on that CD would have allowed for. The conclusion that I’ve reached is that Teramaze has dialed back the rhythmic punch just far enough to shed the proper amount of spotlight on just how well-rounded and talented the entire band is.
My one issue with this album is its 79 minute length. Somewhere in my metal infancy, I wished that all albums could be 79 minutes long, and this was rooted in the adoration of bands that knew exactly how long to make an album, imaging what another 20 minutes of similar quality music could yield. Teramaze never drops in quality, and there’s nothing I could easily point at to cut. Still, as a critic, I feel obligated to take in the entire work of the album, and boy can this get exhausting when it amounts to near-feature film length. Yet, for a listener inclined to Teramaze’s hyper-aggressive progressive metal, there really can’t be too much of a good thing.
Teramaze is in a great place. Its right in the middle of, yes, the Australian progressive metal renaissance, and is showing up in excellent form to the party. They’re further into prog territory than before, but still by no means into weird, genre-bending insanity just yet. Esoteric Symbolism is accessible enough for a pretty wide spread of listeners, but still progressive enough to yield a stimulating, unique appeal with some serious replay value.
4.25 // 5