Sound — 10
Bursting out of the Sacramento, CA scene with mind-boggling guitar taps, jazz drumming that could rival Gene Krupa, and a wild stage show dangerous to anyone who dares get too close, Tera Melos is a musical force to be reckoned with. Seamlessly interweaving elements of free-jazz, high-energy punk, and electronica, TM is a sonic assault ready to give the "prog-music" scene a much needed injection of energy and focus. Guitarist Nick Reinhart displays face-melting two-hand hammer-ons in a higly uncoventional manner. Rather than showboat this technique in an over-the-top Malmsteen-esque solo, he creates intricate melodies that carry the music to sounds only a mathematician could create. Did I also mention they're an instrumental band? While many may groan at the mere suggestion of "instrumental music", the sound is fresh and ranges from spacey interludes, to what you could only describe as "nerd-rock" (see Melody 2). While this energy is great, they manage to balance it out with some incredibly beautiful jazz jams, that slow you down to get ready for the next high-octane assault. 01. Melody 1 - the record opens with bizarre noise manipulations and effects pedal wankery that leads into a complex programmed beat with a truly great jazz melody by both guitarists. Con: too short. 02. Melody 2 - like I described before, you could only describe this song as "nerd-rock." Full of energy, fast-picking and almost-trying-to-hard-to-be-complex tapping, this is definetly a song that will make you want to do anything but sit down and relax. Con: the last 3-minutes usually gets the skip as it is just a few random notes and background drumming, although I really do like it, I've heard it too many times to sit through. 03. Melody 3 - one of my favorites by far. The song opens with a simple C-G-D ascending triad riff that is really moving, and another example of Vince Roger's extremely complex drumming that leaves you guessing if he's just banging around randomly. Probably one of the best tracks on the CD, it's beautiful in it's simplicity and just gives you a warm vibe inside. Cons: too short for me, others may find the repetitive riff boring. 04. Melody 4 - this is a fun song. Reminds me of a surf-guitar rock meets jazz complexity. A very happy-go-lucky sound up until one of my favorite parts of the whole CD; a slow breakdown with a dream-like descending arpeggio interrupted with a quick ascending burst of notes, then back to the dream and repeat. The song manages to cover a wide spectrum of emotions from manic joy and dreamy soundscapes, to anxiety riddled anger. Cons: nothing I can really think of. 05. Melody 5 - very loose and manic, and some very faint background vocals thrown in. Another of my favorites is on this song. The melody slows down into a noise-laden straight-out-of-the-book-of-Hardcore-Breakdowns section that while sounding oddly familiar seems quite inventive and original. The end has a very cool tinker-toy piano outro. Cons: pretty lengthy at almost 9 minutes. 06. Melody 6 - a very chill song but still full of the Tera Melos energy that keeps it from sinking into sleep. The main riff is very cool, I would suggest enjoying it. Cons: I guess if you don't like the CD you won't like this song. Lame I know. 07. Melody 7 - another upbeat, walking-through-a-childs-imagination vibe, full of ADD-fueled starts, stops, and just plain crazines. There are more background vocals peppered throughout the song. At 2:20 is probably one of the greatest guitar moments in recent history; a very brooding picking riff begins to play. Around halfway through the section when you think you have a grasp of reality, they rip it away from you with a quick blast of notes that literally sounds like an organic CD-skip, and then cuts right back into the riff. Cons: the stop/start dynamics can get a little tired after awhile. 08. Melody 8 - bascially just an outro track with more of the noise and effects pedal manips. that opened the cd, except this one lasts about 28 minutes instead 2. Although there is some cool early NES Mario sound effects to check out. I would recommened listening to at least once if you dare! Cons: length is a little ridiculous; no real melody to follow; drums sound like a kid banging away on his dad's drum set. Much better if you were highly sedated or on mood-altering drugs.
Lyrics — 8
This is a little hard since there is no actual singing except for the odd snippet of punk-vocals. Though there is no "real" lyrics or singing, the guitar melodies are really the voice of the band and really seem to tell a story of their own. I will give it a 9 for the guitarists abilities to vocalise their instruments.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a very musically complex CD but is rooted in the simplicity of 3-chord punk which makes it so entertaining and lively. Compared to most other artists of the "progressive rock" genre (i.e. The Fall Of Troy, Portugal The Man, Minus The Bear, to name a few) Tera Melos absolutely shits on them in terms of progressiveness, complexity, energy, and stage persona. Many people will not like this album because it is so highly experimental and has absolutely no traditional structure or order to follow, not to mention no vocals to sing to yourself while your on MySpace (oh snap). If you appreciate guitar music or anything different this is a must-see. If people think newer guitarists from bands such as Avenged Sevenfold or As I Lay Dying (to name a few) can rip it up, then they are in for a big suprise when they here Tera Melos. My favorite songs would have to be (although I would like to put all but 8, I won't), the first 4 would be them, but I have so many favorite parts and riffs throughout the whole CD that I coudn't pick just one or two. Like I've said before, most people will not "get" this album or see what makes it so great, but to each his own. I would highly recommend for anyone who is a fan of above mentioned bands as well as bands that have influenced Tera Melos including Cap'n Jazz, Don Caballero, and Hella to name a few again. I would definitly buy this again if I were to lose it, or steal it from the internet. I will give them a 10 overall for inventivness, originality, musical complexity, and ability to connect with the listener "emotionally." Even my middle-aged music teacher enjoyed the departure from 4/4 rock that is so prevelant.