Review Summary: A great record, but one that came out a decade too late to have its full impact.
Bias is always an interesting thing when it comes to critique. That is doubly true when it comes to dealing with modern music. In literature and fine art its easier to read between the lines and take in all aspects of a creation even if you don't necessarily enjoy it on an outward level. I hate Baroque-era orchestral music and Marcel Duchamp, but I can appreciate their works on so many other levels than just what I get out of it. So, is it another band's fault that my history with their influences or their overall style is already a strike against them? The answer is both yes and no. If on one hand you can't escape the shadow of your influences that hang over you, then yes – you deserve that knock. On the other, if you still manage to create a very well done record that encapsulates everything you set out to do, you should be commended for it.
Matter are one of these cases. Their music is follows into a vein of rather “rawk” post-hardcore that hasn't really been in vogue in several years. Walking in lockstep with everything Thrice did on The Artist in the Ambulance
, their debut LP Teraphim
is admittedly dated from the get go. Yet, at the same time it is better example of everything that this style had to offer at its peak in the mid-2000s than just about anything that has come out since. The band is incredibly tight and proficient at crafting a massive atmosphere that conjures up the same majestic glory as Gothic cathedrals – just listen to the end of “Plague” – and vocalist Elijah Kellogg certainly has a gifted set of pipes. His range falls somewhere in between that of Thrice's Dustin Kensrue and Alexisonfire's Dallas Green, and he plays that card for all its worth. He anchors the album's softer moments with a gentle croon and steals the show on its more extroverted explosions with a massive barrel of a scream. Unfortunately, it's hard to escape just how indebted to their influences Matter are. The album's emotional crux, “Sword”, while quite invigorating, bleeds with the same close-fisted riffing and apocalyptic religious imagery as Thrice's “Hold Fast Hope” and its follow up track “Exiles” pulls hard from the heavier side of A Perfect Circle's arsenal.
Despite those rather inescapable grievances, Matter's Teraphim
is a worthy listen for anyone who has an attachment to the halcyon days of when post-hardcore had its 15 minutes in the mainstream. It showcases everything that made made the genre unique at its commercial peak; massive choruses, layered depth, quality musicianship, and a well developed contrast between loud and soft. Does that make up for it walking all too closely to the footsteps their influences left in the sand? Now that's up to you. If you're still a fan of the style, by all means, go for it. It's definitely worth a listen. If your love for the genre has withered away just like the careers of all the bands you used to jam in high school, chances are this one's not for you.