TO-MERA
Progressive Metal • United Kingdom

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To-Mera is a progressive metal band from London, UK since 2005.

To-Mera began life as a project between Julie Kiss (ex-Without Face) and Lee Barrett (ex-Extreme Noise Terror, Disgust, Mussolini Headkick). After a series of fluid lineups, the current stable incarnation of To-Mera began in early 2005, after Tom MacLean (a fan of Without Face) met Julie at a Dillinger Escape Plan gig and offered his services as a guitarist. Julie then enlisted the help of her hometown friend Ákos Pirisi as drummer for the band, and work commenced on writing material for a demo.

The intention was to fuse the musical interests of each of the members within a dark and atmospheric framework. As a result, To-Mera's style can be described as a mixture between the assorted metal sub-genres, classical and jazz music.

The demo, comprising the tracks Dreadful Angel and Born of Ashes, was recorded in July 2005
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TO-MERA Discography

TO-MERA albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.19 | 12 ratings
Transcendental
Progressive Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 4.21 | 17 ratings
Delusions
Progressive Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.45 | 9 ratings
Exile
Progressive Metal 2012

TO-MERA EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.87 | 5 ratings
Earthbound
Progressive Metal 2009

TO-MERA live albums

TO-MERA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Demo 2005
Progressive Metal 2005

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TO-MERA Reviews

TO-MERA Exile

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Gallifrey
To-Mera - "Exile"

12/20

49th place album of the year 2012

Before its release, I was given a free copy of To-Mera's "Exile" to review, which, due to it being free, I wrote an overtly positive review despite not being entirely certain of my opinions. A few months later and now I can safely say that I do enjoy this album, and my earlier 4 star review was justified, but I figured I'd re-review for reasons for its placing in this list.

Basically, I, like many, found To-Mera due to the phenomenal Haken, who share two members. This album and band are very different to Haken, despite being in the same genre, Progressive Metal. First and foremost, To-Mera has a female vocalist, the stunning Julie Kiss. And while Haken focuses on the virtuosic Dream Theater-esque prog metal, To-Mera are a darker, heavier band with less focus on vocal melodies and synth solos and more on tone and atmosphere. Although I prefer Haken, it's still a very good album, and nice to hear the similarities between them.

To-Mera have a very unique style, and I don't know many other bands who sound anything like them. There are some djenty moments, some very layered Isis-like metal parts, the prog metal solos, but with a fantastic female voice over the top. This uniqueness puts them high on a must-listen list, but the album doesn't have any real striking melodies to stick it out higher up my list, with the possible exception of hard rocker "End Game".

A nice continuation of To-Mera's already unique style, recommended for anyone bored with current prog metal and looking for something fresh, or for fans of Haken who want more (this album has some similarities to their debut, "Aquarius". But like many albums on this list, I have become tired of them after several listens. But you should listen anyway, because I said so.

Originally posted on my facebook page/blog http://www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

TO-MERA Exile

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Exile' - To-Mera (8/10)

Coming from a listener now long bored by the traditional progressive metal style, To-Mera are a go-to source for prog metal the way it should be; musically rich, dynamic, and even original. First hearing them via their member-sharing with the contemporary genre legend Haken, I've only recently discovered that their drummer, Paul Westwood, also offers rhythms for the black metal band Fen, who themselves released one of my favourite records last year. In short, it seems talented folks tend to stick together, and taking into account the other great bands these musicians have been in, To-Mera looks like a meeting place for some of the best of their genre. This latest record "Exile" is no slouch in a line of great albums either. Pairing up dynamic, aggressive and atmospheric metal with a poignant concept, newcomers will be surprised by how well To-Mera are able to digest their influences into something convincing and fresh. Of course, existing fans of the band already knew to expect this!

My first experience with To-Mera was a couple of years ago, with their then-recent EP "Earthbound". Four songs may have not been alot to go by, but it was enough to give a strong look at the band's skill and style. Opeth and the contemporary djent sound were both factors there, but they were overlaid with a strong female voice that one wouldn't normally associate with such technically accomplished music. "Exile" is cut from the same cloth as "Earthbound" and what has come before for To-Mera, but the production and delivery is decidedly improved. Although the band has always had an impressive sense of knowing how to bring out the best in their compositions, "Exile" gives the impression that To-Mera have found a perfect sweet spot between rich production, aggression and atmosphere.

Fans of guitarist and band mastermind Tom McLean's other band Haken will find a similar consistency and fire burning under To-Mera. There is a familiar progressive metal foundation here, the likes of which listeners will have no doubt seen in countless bands by now. Moderate experimentation with time signatures, a fusion of synth textures and guitars, and longform song formats are descriptors that could easily define a large portion of prog metal. They are not separate from some of the more generic qualities (and cliches) of the style, but they ultimately set themselves apart with their atmosphere. Whether its the Egyptian motifs that open up the album on "Inviting the Storm", the playful prog metal freakouts on "The Descent" or the symphonic bombast of "All I Am", "Exile" is doused with a thick layer of dark atmosphere. The vocals of Julie Kiss are a great compliment to the constantly shifting sound. Although her higher register delivery is typical of many female metal singers, the staying power of her voice gives her a great presence. Unlike many progressive metal vocalists- who tend to get swallowed by the instrumental wizardry- Julie brings a sort of proggy weirdness to her voice of its own. While her voice itself is never challenging to the ear, many of her vocal melodies are a little strange in the way they're placed up against the music. It can be difficult to first get into, but it gives her performance a lasting effect that persists far beyond the initial listen.

Even before listening to "Exile", I was struck by the album's concept and lyrical themes. While not a narrative concept like Dream Theater's "Scenes From A Memory" or Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime", "Exile" does tell a story of sorts. Instead of events or actions however, "Exile" unfolds as a journey through the mind. Paraphrasing from the press kit; the protagonist finds herself conflicted, and seeks to ostracize herself from the world in order to protect herself from harm. With that alone, the psychological allegory fits well with the methodical, atmospheric musical approach they take. In actual practice, the lyrics are decent, but don't quite reach the potential that the concept had, either in its wordcraft or the places To-Mera goes with the idea. Although they bring plenty of musical and stylistic twists to the table throughout the album, To-Mera are not as good with emotional dynamics. Unlike Haken's "Aquarius", in which listeners were taken to almost every conceivable feeling and mood, To-Mera's emotional range feels a little limited, a surprise considering their success on virtually every other front.

Musically, To-Mera sound at the top of their game. If they weren't already, they are at the frontlines of contemporary progressive metal. Especially considering that their style has been tread and explored many times before, "Exile" is a surprisingly challenging and meaty project. Listeners should expect to invest several listens before they unlock all of the rewards here, although it would have been nice to have a shred more of the emotional warmth that Haken excels with. Really, it's a great record overall, and prog metallers will find many nights' worth of enjoyment here. I won't be surprised to see this on many 'best of the year', come the end of 2012.

TO-MERA Exile

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Here's a puzzler for you: is To-Mera's Exile a progressive rock album with prog metal moments or a progressive metal piece with progressive rock interludes? It's a tough one because the album hangs right on the borderline of the two approaches, with extended passages where metallic riffing is nowhere in sight and an intriguing sort of jazz-influenced new prog with a hint of Magenta and mid-period Thieves' Kitchen is being performed. With various world music influences also added to the mixture, the album showcases some impressive compositional skills and broad tastes on the part of the band. This is the crew's first album since the departure of co-founder Lee Barrett, leaving Julie Kiss as the sole remaining founder member of the project, and she's clearly done well in setting the band's current course. Fascinating from the first one, this one has grown on me a lot already during out brief acquaintance and I'll certainly be chasing up the group's back catalogue, as well as Julie's old work in Without Face.

TO-MERA Exile

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Exile is the third full-length album by the English/Hungarian progressive metal act To-Mera. The album is the band’s first release since the 2009 EP Earthbound. In that time the members have been involved in other projects or personal commitments. Exile is released through guitarist Tom MacLean’s own label Illusionary Records and is a concept album revolving around the themes of ‘tragedy, loss and hardship’, following a protagonist who places herself in a ‘self-imposed state of exile’, throwing away ‘everything meaningful in life in order to protect herself from further harm’. To quote the press release. I’m going to be honest, I find myself much more enthralled by the music than the story to read more into it beyond what I’ve already been told.

With To-Mera having caught my attention as far back as their 2006 debut album Transcendental, an album I’d rank among that year’s best releases, the band continued to impress on the same level with their second release Delusions (2008). However I found myself disappointed with the Earthbound EP. It wasn’t that it was a bad release, but its four tracks lacked the consistency present on the albums in my view, and I was concerned that after two high qualities releases To-Mera had burned themselves out.

The break between releases seems to have done To-Mera a lot of good though, and I find myself listening to an album which holds that same ‘wow’ factor that I experienced when I first saw the music video for Blood, a track from the debut. I admit to a little apprehension after the EP, but I’m glad to find that Exile proves that my concerns were entirely unfounded. We’re talking yet another high quality progressive metal album from To-Mera and it has many claims to being their strongest work yet.

The best aspect of the album for me is that although it still has that To-Mera sound of heavy guitars (MacLean used eight string guitars for the album), jazzy passages, and the ethereal vocals of Julie Kiss, Exile is able to stand apart from the older releases as it sounds like a much more adventurous release in progressive terms. You can expect to hear stuff you haven’t yet out of a To-Mera album, such as growling vocals during The Descent (the growls are performed by Stephan Forté of Adagio), which give the music a brief black metal feel, electronic keyboards in End Game that kind of remind me of video game music and more so the songs do a lot more chopping and changing between styles than on the previous albums. It’s still very much a metal album, and by To-Mera’s usual standard it’s a very heavy one, pushing towards extreme metal even, but there’s a lot more than just metal going on during Exile.

Does that mean it’s a better album though? In truth it’s difficult to compare the album to what came before since the band has to my ears clearly taken the next step along the road of musical evolution, and Exile is a different beast of that. The prog fans I think will approve as much as I do, but To-Mera also had a level of accessibility in Transcendental and Delusions which has been lessened in Exile due to the extended use of genre hopping. Personally I see the album as another high quality release under the band’s belt. For me the only blip in their career so far has been Earthbound. All three full-lengths up to and including Exile have been top tier to me, with To-Mera one of the few band’s I’ve been happy to objectively rate in such a way. Exile is an essential prog purchase.

9.7/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org) on 28/08/12)

TO-MERA Exile

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
dtguitarfan
To-Mera was born in 2004 out of the meeting of current vocalist Julie Kiss, formerly of the Hungarian Progressive Metal band Without Face, and former bassist Lee Barret, who previously had played for Extreme Noise Terror, Disgust, and Mussolini Headkick. They have gone through a few personnel changes since their first album, and Exile is now their third full studio album since their inception. I first heard of To-Mera when I heard a song of theirs from their 2008 release, Delusions, played on a streaming internet radio station. Sometime later, they caught my attention again when I heard that a favorite of mine, Haken, was formed by To-Mera keyboardist and guitarist Richard Henshall. So I picked up a copy of Delusions and listened to the whole thing – I liked it quite a bit, thought it had a very original and interesting sound, but also thought it could use a little…"polish", at least as far as the production went. Now, if you shared this same opinion, you may have become excited just from seeing the album cover for their new album, Exile – comparing it to the album cover for Delusions, it certainly does look like they may have received some polish, as it is a very bright and shiny looking album cover. And the album is a concept album of sorts, where the Protagonist is dealing with tragedy, loss and hardship, and has plunged herself into a self-imposed state of "exile" in order to protect herself from further harm. But the consequences of this are that she has thrown away much of what is meaningful in life.

So now I find myself listening to the album for the first time, putting the "new polish" theory to the test. Well, the first track - an introduction of sorts (being all instrumental and the shortest track on the album) – did catch my attention. The track starts out with a low hum that builds up volume, and then the band kicks in with an Arabic, dessert feel to the music, coming from the rhythm and drums, as well as the harmonics, but they mix this with what sounds like a Didgeridoo (interesting choice, and a very cool sound), and then add some piano to this. I think the combination of the Arabic feel with the Didgeridoo makes an interesting musical statement that goes along with the theme of the Protagonist having exiled herself to strange and faraway lands, and this musical theme reappears a number of times throughout the album. This atmosphere builds up a very nice suspense, and then BAM! The band hits home hard with crunching metal guitars and a very full sounding keyboard section and I find myself banging my head in sincere enjoyment. Throughout the album they continue to provide some very nice atmospheric contrasts between cinematic tranquility and crashing into driving metal rhythms. The vocals of Julie Kiss add a very interesting ingredient to the mix – her voice comes across in a way that almost sounds like a mythical creature from fantasy realms. One thing that I find quite unique is the way this group can switch so quickly from a Progressive Metal texture to a very Jazzy atmosphere, at times even sounding like Smooth Jazz, and then BAM, they are right back to the heavy hitting metal crunch with full, cinematic keyboards. The band members never really take too much of the spotlight but all seem to work together very well to create a very full, rich sound, with each of the members taking turns adding flourish to this. However I do think that perhaps the standout element of this album is Mr. Henshall, as his keyboard work on this album provides a fantastic atmosphere – I was impressed by how quite often throughout the album he seemed to be using different sounds for each hand, and piano and organ sounds are featured very nicely, mixed in with some very rich synth sounds. Indeed, the usage of many different sounds and textures seems to be something this band has mastered as they switch between acoustic, orchestral, Metal and Jazz atmospheres quite regularly throughout the pieces. This usage of multiple musical textures and atmospheres is, I believe, what earns them the description of being "genre busters", a phrase I have seen used to describe them in various places on the web. With this album, To-Mera has proven to me that, not only is this album quite a polished piece of work, but also that, in my mind, this is one of the best Progressive Metal albums of the year for 2012!

Originally written for www.seaoftranquility.org

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