Album Review :
TERAMAZE - Esoteric Symbolism

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Esoteric Symbolism Cover Art

Title: Esoteric Symbolism
Label: Nightmare Records
Release Date: 4/15/2014
Reviewer: Ty DeLong


  1. All Seeing Eye
  2. Line of Symmetry
  3. Transhumanist
  4. Bodies of Betrayal
  5. Parallels – Dual Reality
  6. Spawn
  7. Punishment By Design
  8. Dust of Martyrs
  9. The Divulgence Act
  10. Esoteric Symbolism
  11. VI Order Out of Chaos
  12. VII Darkest Days of Symphony
  13. VIII In Vitro

Sometimes you come across an album that is so downright impressive that it stretches you into liking a style that it outside of your norm. Estoteric Symbolism is one of those albums for me. While I’m admittedly a fan of metal in almost all its flavors, I’ve never been able to get into progressive metal that contains only melodic vocals. (It often reminds me too much of 80s ballads.) But this album is so well-executed musically that I nearly gave it a perfect score. There’s more to music than perfect performance, however, as I’ll discuss later.

The most noticeable thing about this album is that it is a beast. Though my review copy did match the CD version (which includes one extra track), it clocks in at an hour and eighteen minutes. Only three of the songs are shorter than five minutes, and many are longer than seven. So if you’re looking for a fast and brutal metal fest, this is not for you. But if you’re seeking track after track of technicality that seems to never end, TERAMAZE has exactly what you’re looking for.

That said, Esoteric Symbolism is far too long for a track-by-track dissection. Many of the songs share similar elements, and none is completely different from any of the others. That’s not to say they’re formulaic, though they do tend to blur into one another at times. Most all of them feature chugging guitars, thundering drums, precision solos, soaring harmonies, and a dash of synth. The band also opts not to stick with straightforward time signatures and predictable rhythms. Many of the riffs end on the off-beat, utilize distinctive scales, and exercise other progressive techniques to keep the listener on their toes. Dueling and harmonizing leads make numerous appearances, as well. Key and tempo changes are common, as one could expect of the rule-bending genre. Honestly, as track after track progresses, it’s easy to take the astonishingly articulate musicianship for granted. An album of this stature and quality is by no means easy to produce, no matter how veteran the band.

Vocally, the performance is also flawless. Brett’s strong tenor cuts through each song, never once wavering. There isn’t a ton of diversity in delivery except for a few sections featuring more strained or emphatic lines. As mentioned earlier, the harmonies are also spot-on, another hallmark of the style. In my metalcore-influenced mind, the album would have been much stronger with a variety of screaming vocals thrown in (the only instance is on “Order Out of Chaos”), but I also understand that’s not what the band was going for. With regards to creating an album exemplary of progressive metal, TERAMAZE absolutely nails it.

But that brings me to my only criticism of the album. With regards to lyrical content, I was expecting some deep philosophical questioning based upon the title. Instead, I found it hard to make sense of the vast majority of the songs. “Dust of the Martyrs” and “VII Darkest Days of Symphony” were the only two from which I could draw much meaning; many other times the lyrics were so vague that I had no idea what they could be alluding to. (It’s possible that I missed something and this was intentionally part of the concept of the album, but if not, it is quite ironic that the lyrics are, in fact, so esoteric.) This could also be a stylistic trademark of the genre with which I’m not well-acquainted. I understand the art involved in writing cryptically, and I also admit that I often prefer words which hold deep meaning but don’t require large stretches of interpretation. Perhaps others can glean more than I was able to, but as someone who enjoys beautifully-crafted lines as much as musical composition itself, the music did not connect for me at a heart level, impressive as it is.

Overall: TERAMAZE is a powerhouse band of incredible musicians who deliver over and over again throughout the long duration of Esoteric Symbolism. Metal fans looking for sheer technicality and jaw-dropping solos will find a lot to love in this album, while those wanting brutal heaviness and clear, relatable lyrics may find it lacking in those areas. Either way, the talent and craftsmanship of TERAMAZE cannot be denied.

RIYL:  Hope for the Dying, Extol, Dream Theater