Tera Melos
Tera Melos


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
March 26th, 2006 | 148 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Tera Melos - Tera Melos

Click here before reading the review:
http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~cotto1/ochosting/inconceivable.jpg

Throughout my history with music, there have been a few bands whose technicality and insanity have made me think "inconceivable." It started rather mildly with Thrice and that reaction has expanded since to include bands like fordirelikesake, Hot Cross, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fall of Troy, and most recently (and most inscrutably), Tera Melos. My introduction to this band came from punknews.org, who had reviewed their eponymous one and only LP release on Springman Records. After liking what i read in the review, I went to their purevolume and heard two songs and was immediately sold. Since then I've been trying to buy their album, all but unsuccessfully until tonight after seeing them live at Bottom of the Hill. This band is pretty ferocious and blistering in studio, but live, they bring the rock and don't stop until every face has been melted. Not since Dillinger Escape Plan have I been so overwhelmed and impressed by a live performance.

The story behind the band is that a few members had been part of "legendary" Sacramento bands and were looking to play a different type of hardcore. One of the members met the future drummer at a jazz improv class and picked him up for a few practices, which ended up spawning Tera Melos. In just a cursory history, it's apparent that there is a melding of styles from both the punk and jazz realms, and there is a focus on ingenuity and originality. Their sound is shockingly original. Imagine a band drawn and quartered by the atonal noodling and time signatures abnormalities of Dillinger Escape Plan, the blazingly fast yet melodic riffing of The Fall of Troy, the spastic drumming and orchestration of Hella, and the angular indie feel of Braid, all the while sounding like The Mars Volta done with more punk and even more intensity. Oh ya, they're also all instrumental (excepting a few embedded vocal parts in Melody 2, 7, and 8). The technical aspects of their music are so absurd, it's shocking that not only do they pull it off live, but they pull it off in style, often jumping on their backs and cartwheeling around stage.

To start, I was a little underwhelmed by the album's intensity. After seeing them live and being into the fervor of the show, the album seems a little bit watered down. It's tough to be able to produce a tightly played studio album that isn't diluted when the band is this caustic and over the top. It's partially in the recording quality, which is understandable as Tera Melos is on an indie label and can't spend a bajillion dollars on an immaculate recording, but, it's partially in the songwriting too. Instead of being the unyielding beast I saw live, the album has a lot of experimental moments like a 3-minute long nintendoesque synthesizer solo, or, all of "Melody 8." In the same way many were put off by the excessive ambient noise on The Mars Volta's Frances the Mute, I was put off by the superfluous stretches of noise. I even like the song "Melody 8" but I'd rather trade it in for 28 minutes of the truly rockin stuff.

With that said, this album is impossibly brilliant. I have never heard a band that comes close to this style. Dillinger Escape Plan has the technicality but doesn't have the catchiness or potability. The Mars Volta has the progressiveness but doesn't have the spazziness. Cap'n Jazz has the catchiness but doesn't have the overt technicality and actual jazz influences. It's really tough to place a genre or vocabulary of understanding to this band, but it's even tougher not to dig and respect what they're doing.Their songs have a lot of stop-start dynamics, free jazz breaks, and huge punk/hardcore sections, all while staying really uniform in genre. All of the styles are wrapped up very tightly and very few musical choices stick awkwardly out of the songwriting.

Even then, for me the songwriting doesn't even matter next to the technicality. It reminds of reading the novel "The English Patient" by Michael Ondaatje. While the story of that book was amazing, I cared less for what he was saying, and more for how he was saying it. The book was written so beautifully and lushly that I read to see how Ondaatje would create a beautiful phrasing or line over how he'd develop a character or plot (though he did that masterfully as well). Tera Melos reads like well-crafted poetry most of the time. The guitars are angular as fuck. There is a huge jazz influence here, but it's been thrown through a post-hardcore blender. A lot of the harmonic choices are very rich and jazzy but they come across through quickly alternating block chords or quickly arpeggiated chords. Nothing is static. One of my favorite techniques they use is in their tapping riffs. They'll use double hand tapping but instead of tapping both hands on the same string(s), the guitars will tap out a melodic line with their left hand on the 4 higher strings, and tap out a right hand bass line with their right hand on the 2 lower strings. Beyond that, these sections really sing and carry a melody instead of sounding like wankery or circus music. The bass also has some cool techniques. The bass is less overtly technical but will use unique playing patterns to achieve that angular sound as well. Also, the bassist does a lot of cool slides to imply notes at the start and end positions of the large slides making a lot of the resolutions the bass realizes to be implied, which is a sweet sound (reminds me of the harmonic richness of Mingus) amongst the equally elusive guitars. Probably even more elusive though is the drumming, which is unbelievable. Live, it is absolutely ferocious, and while subdued a bit here, still manages to switch up feels, time signatures, and tempos out of the blue. I feel like the true power of the band comes from the drum's ability to harness a punk beat, swing into jazz, and then resolve into an off time indie (think Owls) beat, as if it were no sweat. I'm willing to consent to the wild changes the band makes because it is pulled off convincingly. Tera Melos never looks over its collective shoulder.

All in all, this album will fuck your father in the shower and then have a snack. Original, ingenious, bombastic, rich, unyielding, indecipherable. That's Tera Melos for ya.

Recommended for fans of: Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fall of Troy, The Mars Volta, fordirelikesake, Thrice, Gatsby's American Dream, Dream Theater, Sufjan Stevens, Cap'n Jazz, Braid, Owls, Charles Mingus, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Off Minor, Hot Cross, Circle Takes the Square, Frank Zappa the most intense thing you've ever heard in your puny little life, mortal.

Recommended Tracks: Melodies 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 (tracks 4 and 6 can be found at http://www.purevolume.com/teramelos)



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user ratings (417)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (4.2)
8 melodies / 10...


Comments:Add a Comment 
AlienEater
March 26th 2006


716 Comments


Sounds extremely interesting. I'll check out Meldies 4 + 6.
Very nice review, as normal.
[QUOTE=DFelon204409]this album will f uck your father in the shower and then have a snack[/QUOTE]
hahahaThis Message Edited On 03.26.06

pixiesfanyo
March 26th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

They're pretty good.

I'd still rate teh album less than a 5 though. Probably a 3.5.

Zebra
Moderator
March 26th 2006


2647 Comments


I've never heard of this, but the review was very well written.
The link made me lol.

Storm In A Teacup
March 26th 2006


13167 Comments


Well fuck me, I need this. I only got bits and pieces of Melody 4 (buffering not good), and I'm fairly impressed.
Really nice review too.

Dancin' Man
March 26th 2006


719 Comments


I just heard about them like 3 days ago. Now I really will look hard.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 26th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have it all man. Hit up that AIM.

weerez1391
March 27th 2006


89 Comments


Great review. I love Tera Melos.

Ps. You should check out my Underminded review.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 27th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Did that already. They sound okay.

Dancin' Man
March 29th 2006


719 Comments


Oh man. This is rocking. Reminds me of my friends new band. The cool part is my friends band isn't a lame ripoff that isn't as good but they actually do have the technical instrumentals along with time changes and key changes. They also have a vocalist though, but I've only heard demo tracks without the vocals so we'll see.

That made little sense.
Tera Melos is good.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 29th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What is the band called? Have they set up a freakin myspace yet?

santi3hg
April 3rd 2006


440 Comments


Sound real jazzy influence to me. Be kinda hard to classify them, good stuff from what I've heard anyways. Where do you buy this shizzzz from?

DFelon204409
Emeritus
April 3rd 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had to wait until I saw them live to be able to pick this up.

Jawaharal
April 4th 2006


1832 Comments


I just bought this. good stuff


DFelon204409
Emeritus
May 18th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just noticed something unfortunate with this version of "Melody 6." The awesome riff that comes in around 2:30 when the song hits its climax is run through an effects filter and is mixed down in this version. The demo version I have of the song called "Seventh Heaven" has this riff pretty clear and in the forefront and it makes its impact so much stronger. I wonder with they wanked around with it in this version.

Unhappy_Dean
May 31st 2006


107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm listening to melody 4 as we speak.

They sound like a spastic The Fall of Troy, and I'm loving it.
Scratch that, now they sound like.....they dont really sound like anyone. God this is awesome.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 4th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=Boner_Dean]They sound like a better The Fall of Troy, and I'm loving it.[/quote]

There we go.

embroglio
June 13th 2006


219 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm going to see these guys in Orangevale on the 24th. I cant fucking wait!

delder1989
September 11th 2006


44 Comments


Wow, this is really hard to find. Damn my location and limited CD stores! Hell, it\'s hard to find on mp3 sites even. I only have Melody 4, and it\'s catchy as hell.This Message Edited On 09.11.06

Wyko
October 27th 2006


150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just bought this on iTunes (No where to get in Holland ) and it's kinda awesome. I'll wait with rating it till I get some more listens, but this will definatly get a 4+.

Wyko
October 29th 2006


150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's really, really good. Although Melody 8 is just not my thing, although I do like ambient track like TMV's "Miranda, that ghost just isn't holy anymore". But still a solid 4.5/5



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