Math rock; what started out to be one of my most favorite genres in this day and age is now one of my least favorite. I feel as though math rock bands have hardly evolved or grown or even thought about trying something new. Now, when I found out I was reviewing Tera Melos‘ newest album, X’ed Out, I got a little worried. I haven’t actually listened to much of the band’s work aside from their first album (which I generally enjoy) and what I expected isn’t what I got.
From the start of X’ed Out, I began to question the whether Tera Melos was actually “math rock” or not. Tera Melos has changed significantly since 2005, and their latest work made me actually have to go back and listen to more. Turns out some math rockers do change and evolve. Tera Melos doesn’t rely on the complexities of their melodies and rhythms alone; I’d go so far as to say X’ed Out has a fuller, more composed sound. Be it the heavy use of vocals or just the occasional slow down from throughout the album, X’ed Out is clearly a step in the right direction for math rock.
On the other hand, Tera Melos does lack that certain something in this album. Most people either listen to music and really get into it, it draws their attention and they can’t help but be completely absorbed into it –or they kind of just let it drone in the background. With X’ed Out, I kind of found myself in limbo. I wanted to really listen to X’ed Out, I wanted to give it all of my attention, but I just couldn’t. To be blunt, I think the album just does a poor job at evoking any sort of emotion. It sounds robotic; the skill is there, it’s well composed, and beautifully produced, but it just lacks that je ne sais pas quoi. It just wasn’t making me feel anything.
As I said before, the album features some heavy use of vocals. Now this isn’t too uncommon for the math rock genre, but the vocals really go a long way here. They kind of act like their own instrument, and really tie it all together well.
At it’s best, X’ed Out really begins to cross genre lines, and takes on a more experimental approach. “Slimed” is a perfect example. To be honest, I thought I was listening to Primus for a minute there. There’s something just plain unsettling about “Slimed,” and if any track stood out to me, it was this one. A slowed down rhythm with a deeper sound really contradicts what I’m used to hearing on a math rock album. The final track of the album also shines. “X’ed Out and Tired,” starts off with some acoustic guitar work. Ethereal vocals gently work their way in and quietly push the song forward. It’s not that the song is anything remarkable, but it’s just so unexpected. It’s really the perfect way to end X’ed Out.
Overall, X’ed Out is a pretty impressive album from a technical standpoint, but it kind of just lacks elsewhere. It’s not a very emotional album, and it may seem a little off putting at times. Despite this, it’s not hard to look past this to appreciate the hard work that went into X’ed Out. With their latest album, X’ed Out should please old fans and new fans alike.