Aussie proggists Teramaze return with their ninth album – and what a feast for the ears it is!

I’ll be honest here and front up to the fact that I’ve heard nothing by the band since their excellent 2019 album Are We Soldiers – they’ve released a couple of albums since then – but I’m pleased to report that they are in (in my experience) career-best form on this sumptuous pop-prog platter.

Don’t be alarmed by that pop tag. There’s nothing wrong with being popular, even in the bearded, eight-stringed world of prog metal, and it’s hard to describe the funk-laden grandeur of Jackie Seth as anything other than a pop song. A breathtakingly brilliant, radio-levelling pop song, to be sure, but a pop song nonetheless,  with a compelling lead vocal from band mainman Dean Wells that’ll send shivers down the spine if the word Toto has any meaning to you at all.

It’s not all like that, of course – there are plenty of moments of cranium-bashing heaviness to enjoy too, but overall this is sleek, supremely eloquent, intelligent heavy metal that demands the listener’s full attention and adoration. The album’s central fulcrum, Modern Living Space is a quite astonishing piece of music; at once urgent yet strangely serene, it builds and builds over a ten minute duration that never allows the attention to wander as spiky riffs ebb and flow over futuristic keys and stabbing, punchy drums from Nick Ross. And then of course there are the spellbinding vocals of Wells soaring over the top of it all, driving drama levels into the red with a bravura performance of majestic proportions. This bloke isn’t just a top drawer axe god. It’s quite sickening, really…

His interplay with fellow guitarist Chris Zoupa is the lynchpin that will attract casual listeners and shredheads, of course, but the pair’s playing throughout is so restrained and so tasteful that this is never an album that descends into mere displays of adroitness and speed. Even when guitars and keyboards duel at length in the middle of Modern Living Space it’s in exciting rather than wearisome fashion, and the upshot is… wait for it… prog metal with an undeniable POP edge, no matter how weighty the subject matter being tackled might be.

And that’s a win-win situation in anyone’s book, surely?

Closing track Head of The King is another stone-cold highlight, but to be honest in an album nearly an hour in length with no weak points discernible at all highlighting tracks seems pointless. This album is the complete article, top to bottom, front to back, and it is, with no word of a lie, one of the most consistently breathtaking record I’ve heard this year. Bravo!

And the Beauty They Perceive releases on October 5th.