So, progressive music sure has gotten popular recently. Bands that are considered to be “revolutionary” and “original” nowadays almost always have a “progressive” inkling to them. Think about it, what band do you hear in heavy music circles that is highly respected, that isn’t described as “progressive”. It makes sense, combining the attributes of two separately different genres into one coherent one is a daunting task, as well as it easily keeps the attention of the current youth’s mind set. Nobody wants to hear 4/4 punk songs anymore, we want 7/8 shredfests that on a button turn into an acoustic melody about magicians in the mountain (yes, that is a shot at Opeth.) So anyway, what does this have to do with The Postman Syndrome? Well, most people would consider them progressive; they have roots in the scene of the ‘70s involving Yes and Pink Floyd. With this prehistoric prog backing they also add a strong metalcoresque love and it creates kind of a weird blend of yelling, singing, dissonance and melody. While lots of bands attempt to do this, The Postman Syndrome’s attempt at it is extremely different, which is odd because they probably would list similar influences to most of the other bands that they could be related too. Most fans of the band probably found them do to their singers biting of Tool singer Maynard James Keenan. While I guess one could draw a comparison in the actual musical section of Tool and the Postman Syndrome, Tool’s sound seems way to dense in dark incomparsion to some of the lighter moments of the Postman Syndrome. At any rate, I’m betting the band has a large influence from Tool but it only truly shows in the singer’s vocals.
Terraforming is divided into twelve chapters. Why is that? I have no clue, but it’s probably to make the music sound deeper or something. What does the music sound like? Well it starts off all airy and modern rockish (think dredg), and then goes into some metalcore stuff. This is basically the format the entire album follows, there are slight retouches throughout to keep it interesting like the acoustic introduction on “Unfamiliar Ceiling” or the melodic interludes spaced throughout “Rotating Crib Toy (Pt 1)”. It’s hard to define the bands actual music without just citing the amount of bands they combine into one element, because it is very different from anything I’ve ever heard but at the same time it is pretty similar to what I’d expect from a band that lists groups such as Isis, dredg and Yes as their influences. The music is separated with brief instrumental interludes and introductions that help the album seem like an entire work, rather than just single songs. One of the attributes that makes the Postman Syndrome so enjoyable is the fact that unlike most bands involved in the progressive/metal scene they don’t take themselves to seriously. With lines like “If love turns cold, I'll call it ice cream and fake a happy tune” it is obvious the band is willing to go out on a limb and sound an indie rockish. The previous line is from what I would consider the best album on the track “Interpretive Decorating” is a blend of highly melodical modern rock sections and a little bit of yelling. As the song comes to its climax we get some high vocal wailing and a terrific guitar solo that fits the mood expertly, I think this song really captures the goal of the Postman Syndrome and that is why it is the best track on the album. While the Postman Syndrome has a unique sound and is usually playing interesting music the band’s production on this album is pretty typical and doesn’t suit the album as well as I believe it could. Some of the instruments and vocals are over produced and it comes out sounding a bit too lifeless. This may be because I’m just a huge emotional hardcore fan, but I really enjoy relating to what the singer is saying and there are a lot of moments in Terraforming where I don’t feel that happening. Still the music side of the band is almost always high caliber and just the unexpected turns the band throws at you really interest me.
Terraforming is kind of like dredg’s El Cielo in that it is a solid, interesting modern rock record. It’s obvious if the Postman Syndrome wouldn’t have broken up they would’ve in my opinion become as popular as the band’s they so highly respect. Terraforming was a great start to what could’ve been a good career, but sadly we will never know what would’ve happened if this particular group of musicians had stayed together. While Terraforming is a solid album, I feel its flaw in production and it’s sometimes blandness kind of takes it out of the running for being a great album. A progressive fan would not be turned on to the music by Terraforming, but I’m guessing most fans of the genre will solidly enjoy the album. Basically it’s one of those good genre releases but as of convincing other fans that the new progressive scene is something interesting, I doubt. Still if you are a fan of modern rock or any type of heavy music I suggest giving Terraforming a try, it’s a excellently crafted album and will have you constantly comeback to understand some of the subtle changes that can only be heard on repeated listens.