TERAMAZE — Esoteric Symbolism

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TERAMAZE - Esoteric Symbolism cover
4.04 | 9 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2014


1. All Seeing Eye (3:33)
2. Line of Symmetry (6:57)
3. Transhumanist (4:16)
4. Bodies of Betrayal (6:32)
5. Parallels / Dual Reality (4:48)
6. Spawn (5:09)
7. Punishment by Design (5:27)
8. Dust of Martyrs (5:17)
9. The Divulgance Act (6:05)
10. Esoteric Symbolism (7:13)
11. VI Order Out of Chaso (7:17)
12. VII Darkest Days of Symphony (7:34)
13. VIII In Vitro (7:59)

Total Time 78:07


- Tijon Lolis / Bass
- Mathew "Mat" Dawson / Guitars
- Dean Wells / Guitars, backing vocals
- Brett Rerekura / Vocals
- Dean Kennedy / Drums

About this release

Release date: April 15th, 2014
Label: Nightmare Records

Thanks to diamondblack for the addition and adg211288, UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Esoteric Symbolism" is the 4th full-length studio album by Australian progressive metal act Teramaze. The album was released through Nightmare Records in April 2014. Teramaze were founded in 1993 and released two studio albums in the 90s before a longer recording break from 2001 until 2012 began (they released a promo and a compilation in those years though). Teramaze returned in 2012 with their 3rd full-length studio album "Anhedonia" and with the release of "Esoteric Symbolism", only two years after it´s predecessor, it seems that Teramaze are now more active than ever.

The music on "Esoteric Symbolism" is melodic progressive metal. I hear clear nods toward an act like Dream Theater, but a band like Anubis Gate is also a valid reference. Teramaze used to be a more thrash oriented band, but besides some really heavy riffing and some thrashy parts, that occur now and again, this is melodic progressive metal through and through. Tempo- and time signature changes, challenging guitar playing, keyboards (mostly used as backing and for enhancing atmosphere, rather than as a lead instrument), relatively complex songwriting (but with hooks and memorable choruses) and a melodic lead vocalist in Brett Rerekura. He doesn´t have the most distinct sounding voice or delivery, but he gets the job done and his singing style is pleasant enough and generally suits the music well.

The musicianship are on a high level and "Esoteric Symbolism" is a well produced affair too. At 78:07 minutes it might be a bit long for the casual listener, but that´s probably not an issue for fans of the band. Overall "Esoteric Symbolism" is a high quality progressive metal album and while I don´t find it wildly original sounding, it´s creative and adventurous enough and combined with the high level musicianship and professional sound production, it makes for a pretty great listening experience. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Time Signature

Genre: progressive metal

The first Teramaze-album I heard was 2012's "Anhedonia". That album was marketed as a progressive metal album, which puzzled me, because it did not strike me as being progressive at all. Rather, it was more of a melodic power-thrash album. With their latest album "Esoteric Symbolism" also being classified as a progressive metal album, I was naturally curious to see how "progressive" this album actually is.

Well, "Esoteric Symbolism" is an all out progressive metal album. While there are still elements of thrash metal, such as the slightly Voivod-esque riffs in 'Parallels - Dual Reality' and the power metallic larger-than-life vocal melodies in 'Punishment by Design', this album is full of syncopated rhythms, layered guitar melodies, jazz-rock inspired guitar solos, and dynamic song structures. There are several enjoyable tracks on the album, in particular the melodic, but challenging, 'Transhumanist' and 'Bodies of Betrayal' as well as 'Parallels - Dual Realities' with its thrashy aggression and nicely convoluted song structure.

The production may be a bit tinny, but this does not disturb the listening experience at all; in fact, the slightly rough sound fits the more hard-edged parts extremely well. Teramaze's songwriting skills can only be commended, and the musicianship is admirable and awe-inspiring.

With its combination of hard-edged riffs and melodic delicacy, Teramaze's "Esoteric Symbolism" is recommended to any fan of modern progressive metal.
Esoteric Symbolism (2014) is the fourth full-length album by the Australian thrash metal act Teramaze. It is their second release since the comeback album that was Anhedonia (2012), which was the band's first full-length effort since Tears to Dust (1998).

Having produced a not so typical take on the thrash metal genre in Anhedonia it comes as quite a surprise to me what Teramaze sound like on Esoteric Symbolism. It is like the sound of a completely different band. Gone is the extra melodic take on thrash because the thrash metal itself is nowhere to be found on the album (Punishment by Design would be the closest they come). Instead Teramaze have morphed into a fully fledged progressive metal act. They had their share of progressive elements before, on Anhedonia, but despite it being bandied about a fair bit when the album came out progressive metal was never a term I was particularly comfortable using for Anhedonia. I even feel vindicated in that opinion because of the release of Esoteric Symbolism; a back to back listen to both albums is the perfect way to highlight the major differences. Short of turning towards an extreme death or back metal sound or leaving metal behind entirely, Esoteric Symbolism is about as far from Anhedonia as Teramaze could have gotten.

I can certainly respect an artist who can reinvent themselves in such a way between releases the way Teramaze have done here, but there is a downside to this where this particular act is concerned. They prove more than competent as a progressive metal act of course, but I can't help feeling that their power and symphonic influenced take on the genre has put them in more of a dime a dozen niche compared to what they did on Anhedonia, which set them apart as something special. Not only that but the material on the last album was also generally stronger to my ears, packing more punch and sticking in my head longer. Frontman Brett Rerekura sounds as great as ever though, and the instrumentalists are all well playing but overall I did enjoy the last album a fair bit more. A rating within the 4 stars bracket is still fair, as Esoteric Symbolism is a solid album of modern melodic progressive metal, with special mentions going to tracks like Line of Symmetry and viii In Vitro, but it does seem a step back to me for Teramaze to now be producing a sound that puts them on the same page as many other artists, not least their Nightmare Records label mates Anubis Gate.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/teramaze-esoteric-symbolism-t3417.html)

Members reviews

"Design a collusion delusion A system of victim intrusion Scheming strategic manoeuvres We are bodies betrayed"

Refreshing, powerful, and extremely melodic - the adjectives I'd use at a push to describe Teramaze's 5th album. I have to admit I pretty much consider this their sophomore release as I was not party to their releases throughout the 90's, with my first introduction to the band with their 2012 powerhouse 'Anhedonia' which quite ironically generated feels of anything but anhedonia. There has been an undeniable buzz around this release and I have found it virtually impossible to escape the widespread word and hype around this album anywhere I look online; generally I wouldn't necessarily see this as categorically positive as it can taint your expectations unintentionally. Thankfully for the most part, my expectations and hopes with this album have been realised to the point that I welcome any melodic, thrash, progressive or otherwise metallically inclined music fan to check this 79-ish minute thematic conceptual monster.

The initial impressions I have when comparing this with 'Anhedonia' is a development away from the slightly more thrash-oriented direction that I suspected was the impact of the members growing up in the era where that particular sub-genre beared its greatest fruits. I use the term development as I believe it has very much naturally progressed as compared to what I would consider a departure. The addition of more progressive structures and more varied layering works exceptionally well in Teramaze's favour to create a soundscape of in your face riffs, contemplative and brooding moods, earworm choruses, and timeless unity across the entire album.

Without doubt one of the things that will grab listeners' attention is the astonishing fretboard wizardry of band leader and Dean Well's who treats us to undeniably wondrous smorgasbord of head nodding animosity (special mention to the riff at 2:02 in 'Line of Symmetry' - that will get you nodding with the mania of Jack Black), and emotive, creative, delicious lead playing that is akin to guitar heroes aplenty (Petrucci, Sfogli, Skolnick - just to name a few). The balance of great lead playing and rhythm work is a pleasure with nothing inappropriately overstated like one can sometimes expect of the genre. As a special addition, the tones are simply incredible on this album and it is glued perfectly with the bass and bonded by the fairydust keyboards that emerge to keep the sonic palette interesting (courtesy of Circadian Pulse keyboardist Dave Holley).

The production is another point of veritable quality with all the instruments presented in a crystal clear state whilst maintaining vibe and not losing out to sterility which is a sad by-product of the self-produced musical climate of 2014. The only complaint I really have is that the mastering is a little hot which is noticeable after the first track (which was mastered in my ideal sweet spot). It sits at DR6 across the whole album on average which is nothing out of the ordinary for this day and age but it occasionally gets fatiguing especially over such a long record. Thankfully moment of distortion are kept to a minimum, however there are some trace elements of weakened transients and the occasional buried vocal that loses intelligibility.

Vocalist Brett Rerekura is a joy to listen to and I am appreciative of the fact although his voice pushes the aggressive edge to fit the setting of the music, it is rich in melody and characteristic timbre and is not sabotaged with growls. Long live the singer in a metal band, I say! I detect glimmers of Layne Staley, Sebastian Bach and the rhythmic phrasing of James Hetfield. My only beef is the occasional "Aussieisms" I hear in some inflections which I am hyper-sensitive too (even though I'm Australian myself), however this doesn't detract too much from what is a splendid vocal performance across the board. There are moments of supreme delicacy especially in 'Bodies of Betrayal' which I would have liked to have heard more of as well as a bit more of that delicate side to the band overall to give this album the dynamic curve it deserved. This is of course only a minor criticism.

The album's concept, while not narrative based centres around the experiential nature of deception; especially by that of governing bodies and the powers that be. I think the title of 'Esoteric Symbolism' is perfectly apt as this is not the viewpoint or mindset of everyone and best kept as the worldview of a particular minority of people. I think for some the lyrical approach could border on conspiracy but I like the exploratory nature of them and what is truly the harm in questioning some of the taken-for-granted "truths" we hold in this ever-changing world. Kudos to Teramaze for honestly and whole-heartedly fusing their beliefs with such hard-hitting music in a way that I see as completely lacking pretence.

For me the standout tracks are 'Bodies of Betrayal', 'Esoteric Symbolism' (6:53 in this gives me goosebumps), and 'viii In Vitro' as I believe they hold the most profound emotional connection with me due to the individual moods they build. I have to admit the only track that I am not particularly keen on is the one with the guest vocals as I feel as though it breaks the flow of the album in a way that was superfluous to requirements. It came across as guests for guests sake which is probably my most direct criticism of the record.

This is an exceptional release that stands up to my extremely critical ear and was only let down by perhaps a slight lack of expression with regards to dynamics (mastering and songwriting) across such a long album. Its length to some may indeed be a bit hard to swallow in single listens, however this is par for the course for me as a fan of long form writing. For fans of Metallica, Dream Theater, Alice in Chains and anyone who wishes to have a boot up the bum and an electrode to the brain from an ambitious and highly satiating album. 9/10

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