The shut-ins gaze outward.
Few nations have been impacted more severely by the events of the past year and a half than the land down under, leaving whatever modest live metal scene within its borders in a state of perpetual limbo. Yet the coerced standstill that has resulted has proven a fountain of inspiration for a number of bands in the studio setting, with the highly prolific output of the Victoria-based progressive rock/metal powerhouse Teramaze being among the most auspicious, resulting in three full length offerings in less than two years, no small feat when considering the highly elaborate character of their adopted style. Theirs’ has always been a craft of balancing rich timbres and technical flair with a highly accessible melodic scheme that situates them somewhere between the pioneering virtuosity of Dream Theater, and the more measured and expressive trappings of Threshold and Vanden Plas, occasionally veering back into the earlier sounds of the style’s 1970s roots, but always maintaining a modern edge.
The most recent trifecta of works to emerge from this outfit’s creative arsenal during the Covid lockdowns has been typified by its own unique lineup. Co-founder, guitarist and songwriter Dean Wells proves to be the most consequential factor in this era of the band, taking on lead vocal duties and much of the keyboard work. Dean’s voice caries a fair degree of commonality with that of current Threshold front man Glynn Morgan, having a decidedly airy and soaring quality that dovetails with the lighter side of the progressive metal coin. Combined with a generally mid-paced, groove-centered flow of the rhythm section provided by drummer Nick Ross and Meshiaak bassist Andrew Cameron and the rich texture brought in by the smooth keyboards and vocals, the sound that emerges might be thought of as light and relatively safe. However, the chunky punch provided by the riff work of Wells and fellow guitarist Chris Zoupa provide a much needed aggressive counterpoint to establish this band’s metal credentials.
Having dropped the highly ambitious and conceptual work “Sorella Minore” earlier this year, Teramaze has taken a more conventional approach with their latest offering “And The Beauty They Perceive”, at least insofar as progressive metal following the advent of “Images And Words” and “Psychedelicatessen” goes. The songs stand on their own both lyrically and musically, touching upon relative sentiments of rage, despair, and hope in a series of self-contained songs that are both ambitious in scope, yet also quite easy to digest. Per the band’s own testimony, the album stands as an amalgam of the elements that defined every offering in their back catalog since their 1995 debut “Doxology;” a sort of fan-centered affair that functions as its own series of tuneful bangers and ambitious compositional undertakings. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and even throws in some occasional tongue-in-cheek lyrical moments, but overall it reflects the grandiose character that has been quite typical of progressive metal since the mid-1990s.
In much the same fashion as many seminal offerings in this style, the manner in which this album unfolds could be likened to a gradual crescendo, beginning things on a simple note and gradually building in complexity. The opener and title anthem “And The Beauty They Perceive” showcases a moderately long excursion into infectious melodic territory with some occasional progressive twists and a chunky riff set at its foundation, and is immediately chased by similarly catchy and compact bangers like “Jackie Seth” and “Untide” that could all but pass for rock radio. None of these songs really slouch in the technical department, but as the album progresses it becomes pretty clear that Wells and company are saving their more riveting material for later, with the 10 minute long Rush-inspired epic “Modern Living Space” and the elongated metallic journey through technical brilliance and closer “Head Of The King” enjoying most of it, though one would be remiss to discount the faster-paced bluster and fury of “Search For The Unimaginable”.
It’s a foregone conclusion that any fan of Teramaze will enjoy what this album has in store, as it is basically prime cut for those who enjoyed every era of the band. But it’s necessary to take it a step further and assert that this is the sort of album that just about any fan of lighter progressive metal from the Christian trappings of Redemption to the more esoteric musings of Anubis Gate will find a solid offering here. There is definitely something to be said for looking on the bright side of things, and arguably one of the most lustrous silver-linings to this unrelenting storm of social change brought about by the lockdowns has been the increased studio output in the metal world. One might infer that this increased quantity that has gone along with nearly 2 years of slowed touring necessitates a corresponding decrease in quality, but even if that proves to be the case, it hasn’t applied to what this seasoned quartet has been bringing forth thus far.
Released By: Wells Music
Released On: October 5th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Metal
- Dean Wells / Vocals, Guitars, Keys
- Andrew Cameron / Bass Guitar
- Chris Zoupa / Guitars, Keys
- Nick Ross / Drums
“And The Beauty They Perceive” Track-listing:
1. And The Beauty They Perceive
2. Jackie Seth
4. Modern Living Space
5. Blood Of Fools
7. Son Rise
8. Search For The Unimaginable
9. Head Of The King
Nearly two years of forced isolation have left one of Australia’s most consequential progressive metal exports undaunted as they unleash their 3rd fit of melodically bright yet structurally nuanced brilliance since the Covid lockdowns commenced