TERAMAZE – I Wonder (2020)
Aussie progressive metal titans TERAMAZE are back with their new album “I Wonder“, their seventh effort, and indeed ‘I wonder’ if this should not be added the Seven Wonders of the World list.
Yeah, “I Wonder” is one of the greatest melodic prog metal albums from the last 3 decades, on par in quality and style with DREAM THEATER’s ‘Images & Words’. Hard to believe? You better listen to this jewel, into our 10-Top List of the year already.
“Ocean Floor” leads off the album. It opens with the sound of water, and some light keys. Drums, bass, vocals and guitars hit hard, along with harmonized vocals. The guitars chugg along in a certain patter, while the vocals are emotive. It’s a bit of a melancholy affair, but that guitar solo shines bright in the grey skies.
“Only Daylight” is heavy with piano and keys, with clean and easy vocals. The verses are a bit solemn but turn somewhat hopeful in the harmonized vocals in the chorus. It slows to take a breath with bass guitar notes and some leads here and there. It crashes towards the ending with plenty of doleful emotions.
“Lake” is a shorter song and one of my favorites, opening with sweet keyboards and soothing vocals. The layers create this sense of longing that grab your heart and pull it from your chest.
On the other hand, “A Deep State of Awake” is close to nine-minutes in length, but it’s an incredible journey. It opens with spoken word and the steady thumping of bass guitar notes. The progressive sound of the band comes through stronger here. More power vocals give the song a totally different edge, however, and as all over the album, are absolutely clean.
“Here to Watch You” opens with clean guitars and some light percussion. “I’m here to love you for a night” croons Dean Wells. It picks up with the distorted guitar riff and builds to a crescendo with some tight instrumentation and progressive elements. Impressive.
When that perfect blend of keys and guitars mesh in synergy, you have “Sleeping Man.” The opening notes give it all away. It starts with a super-catchy riff and emotional singing. The vocals in the verses are tender and inviting. But when he sings “I’ve awoken the sleeping man inside,” it might be the catchiest chorus of any song I have heard in 2020. What power, what emotion it exudes. I’m awoke emotionally, with chills and goosebumps.
“Idle Hands the Devil’s Workshop” is a near-ten-minute opus. It opens with some darker tones and eerie keys. The rhythm guitar section is slow and powerful, and those progressive elements make themselves known. Another big, strong chorus follows. Dual harmonic leads really push the emotions here. The piano and ambient passage is absolutely beautiful. It ends in a big build-up with a fantastic guitar solo and the final chorus.
“Run” is mellow, with charming clean vocals and piano notes while rain falls quietly on an overcast day late in fall. You look out the window for the 10th time that day and see the same landscape. The chorus is gut-wrenching and will delve into your very soul.
“This is not a Drill” is a gloomier and more commanding sound. They really know how to wallow in grey skies and darkness. The first lead break makes perfect sense with the sound to date. But it takes a charming pause to let out some emotional elements. The push and pull of the competing elements is what makes the song so good. Yin and yang… and what a big, emotional ending.
Title track “I Wonder” closes the album: piano, vocals, guitars and pulls your feelings towards the music. Lyrics “If only you could fly away with me” pushes forward to a sentimental ending that is pure sublime bliss.
In my experience, it’s rare that an album can make such an emotional impact on me. But that is exactly what TERAMAZE have done here with “I Wonder.” It’s so intense and expressive that it makes my heart ache.
“Run,” “Sleeping Man,” and “I Wonder” perhaps had the greatest effect on me. But each track left a mark in one way or another. Unabashedly and unashamedly beautiful both lyrically and musically, the key of this band is the method in which they combine powerful and commanding sounds with moments of breathtaking wonder.
This is one of the most moving albums I have heard in some time, and a contender for Album of the Year for sure.
TERAMAZE’s masterpiece (so far)…
01. Ocean Floor
02. Only Daylight
03. Lake 401
04. A Deep State Of Awake
05. Here To Watch You
06. Sleeping Man
07. Idle Hands/The Devil’s Workshop
09. This Is Not A Drill
10. I Wonder
Dean Wells – Guitars, Vocals
Andrew Cameron – Bass
Nick Ross – Drums
Chris Zoupa – Guitars