TO-MERA — Exile (review)

TO-MERA — Exile album cover Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review, I expect I'll be listening to it a lot today.

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