April 17, 2009

nick from tera melos

nick from tera melos


  It is a funny thing about finding great bands.  Initialy a search will begin and yield maybe 7 bands. 5 out of the 7 will never be listened to again citing any of the following adjectives, boring, samey or unorignal. the remaining 2 will be listened to for a few months and revisted periodically in the years to follow.  I mention this because a truly great band for me happens maybe once a year. That year was 2007 and the band was Tera Melos.

      It is odd to think that a band can right off the mark give you goosebumps, but this is that kind of band.  Discovered while checking out their split (complex full of phantoms) with By the End of Tonight, i had heard BTEOT’s previous work and heard this was a great extension of their ideas.  While there side is very good and does extend their MO very well (metal-tinged math rock) from 2005’s effort “A Tribute to Tigers” it was side two that knocked me over the head. 

      Math-rock with interesting melodic sense is what i would say when describing it but really that could be said about many bands in the genre.  The true meat and potatoes of the operation is in songwriting and execution. 

     First off is drums. The best way to say this is reigned in free jazz chops mixed with fast “traditional” math drumming.  Never really playing with the guitars they often compliment them though mostly share there own path. The closest comparison would have to be zach hill from hella.  Both share in frenetic math tendensies but where as zach is more technical (not another word for better) vince rogers (old drummer replaced by john clardy) plays a more varied approach hardly ever doing the same thing more than once.  John just recently joined which is why i mostly speak of Vince’s playing. the only release he has played on to my knowledge is the new Idioms release.  As they are covers its hard to say what sort of style Clardy uses without having a proper release following.  I am however seeing them play soon so i will be writing a review.

    Guitars.  Full tilt manic riff roaring good times, swing from video game shredding to metal tinged strumming back to saturday morning cartoon anthems all in a matter of 20 seconds.  The one thing all these styles have in common is a sense of nostalgia.  Nick Reinhart and Nathan Latona have a great ability to turn their songs into true emotional anthems without the crutch of lyrics.   Their great intensity and love for what they do is what puts them head and shoulders above the rest of the don cab clones (don cab now included, buuuuurn).

Upon listening to their output it is easy to see this group has true staying power.  While not wildly different, each release is a natural progression. 

  “Untitled” lays the ground work and while not as “challenging” it is a more than impressive deput.  As a four member group (Jeff Worms, second guitar would end up leaving before the recording of their second release)they have a similar set up to most math rock.  Shades of future turns do pop up but it is a fairly straight forward affair. Some songs do better than others with album cohesion lacking.

“Drugs to the Dear Youth” their 2007 follow up finds the group focusing on their awesome energy.  What i mean is that where “untitled” followed normal avenues drugs is a tera melos in love with dynamic shifts and more free form jazzier passages.  As stated Jeff would leave the band before recording began.  As to what effect this had on the band it could be said that a lot of the more angular guitar work was let go.  Vince especially seems to let go off expected “odd time signature” drum patterns and weaves in and out for much of the album.  Guitars finally find their own identity and are let loose flying everywhere at once then shifting in almost the same breath.  Miss steps could be pointed out in that the shear “rock” traits are somewhat absent, bending more to slower avenues of free jazz. 

“Complex Full of Phantoms” brings a fully realized group back at the tail end of 2007 almost a brand new beast.  A coming together of both releases see’s all their disperate elements molding into one big deal after another.  Song structures are far more jam packed with faster changes from guitars.  Recast are the huge guitars that were missing in drugs chugging and shredding where necc.  Drum work evolves as well taking what was once small dips into jazz drums into a whole style that could only be Vince’s.  Blistering poly math that few drummers would ever dream of writing let alone playing. Other interesting changes sneak in as well as a dip into vocals on several tracks.  These add an extra layer to their attack and not that you can decipher lyrics, they offer an interesting pop sense.

   With a new album in the works, tera melos is going to be a true force to be messed with.  Currently on tour (I will be seeing them next month) It will see them enter a new level of notability and success.   Hopefully there will be many more to come.

Check them out in action…


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