There was once upon a time when I’d write about Tera Melos being some mathy band with a voracious appetite for badass guitar licks, but that was years ago. X’ed Out has come and gone, and now Tera Melos is an all new kind of beast: darker, grittier, more atmospheric. The trio’s latest album, Trash Generator, is more fearsome and string starved. Nick Reinhart is heavier than ever, driving the band with guitar lines that could rip open a portal and let some giant-monster-kaiju through. California beware, you have a demented hell-band on the loose.
Trash Generator begins with a thick spread of bassy strings and whispered vocals. “System Preferences” is arguably the gentlest way the album could have started. Guitars crash through like lightening –echoing with thunderous hits of percussion. Tera Melos slowly builds each layer of texture of this doomsday sounding track. Arguably the vocals feel unnecessary and awkwardly pinned against an otherwise completely fine song, but at the same time, “System Preferences” leaves much to be desired. It’s a sleeper of a start, but if Tera Melos didn’t accelerate slowly, your ears would likely disintegrate.
Trash Generator is surprisingly heavy. While Tera Melos has always been well known for their fast paced and highly intricate jams, Trash Generator takes the cake. Each track is incredibly atmospheric and driven by a slew of rapid fire drums accompanied by a vicious guitar that navigates its way between effect pedals and styles in a terrifyingly agile way. The album is not for the lighthearted.
“Warpless Run” seems to cement this early on. The fourth track begins in a total rush –within thirty seconds all hell breaks loose. Reinhart seemingly loses control as his stringed demon rips through your speakers, screeching its way through notes before the song steadies itself and gives you a brief chance to breathe. Vocals serenade you just before things get even weirder and crazier. It’s insane that each instrument keeps up with the other with such harmony –creating such cacophony.
The follow-up, “Dyer Ln,” starts crisp and slows things down. Interestingly, some surf rock inspiration seems to wiggle through. It’s a nice interlude and a strong demonstration that yes, Tera Melos can tone it down for a brief second. But with that in mind, it’s rare that the band does give you a chance to rest in this album. Like a horror flick serial killer, Trash Generator is always right behind you. When the guitars aren’t in the middle of some spine-chilling riff, the drums are pounding with the most intimidating sound you can imagine.
On a side note; whereas the vocals used to complete the Tera Melos experience, Trash Generator seems to have added vocal lines as an accessory –sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The most obvious hiccup is upfront –the beginning of the album feels awkward with “System Preferences” vocal lines. A lingering bad taste makes the vocals feel ‘tacked on’ later through the follow-up tracks. Contrasting this, “Men’s Shirt” starts to redeem those human voices and “Don’t Say I Know” mutates the human vocal chord into a falsetto-machine for some solid texture. Just as this paragraph is something of an addendum, Trash Generator has vocals that feel like a side show.
In such a string driven band, it is however impressive that Tera Melos can strike such balance. Trash Generator’s composition is beyond genius, utilizing each instrument perfectly. Needless to say, it was well worth the wait. The band shows of their creative prowess in my personal favorite, “A Universal Gonk.” Featuring an onslaught of instrumental voices, the sheer variety is impressive and surprisingly well done.
“Universal Gonk” begins in the 16-bit spectrum, mimicking some form of abstract-art chiptunes. The song develops a little bit more stability with clean guitar lines. Glitchy electronic bits cut through and the song progresses. It’s relatively calm in comparison to the rest of the album, and in that way stands out, but the real fun begins halfway through. The instruments build in intensity and suddenly, a deep, digital tone, some cymbals, and eventually a horn. “Universal Gonk” is astonishing and by the time it finishes, the track has developed into its own insanity inducing beast of a track.
Tera Melos closes their latest with “Super FX.” A heavy jam session full of distorted strings and thunderous drums –scratch that, an earthquake pounding of percussive hits. It’s far from a palate cleansing finish, the band instead leaves you with a furious static pulsating through your soul.
In short, Trash Generator is one of my more favorite metal-ish albums as of late, and I really don’t see the harm in giving the album a listen. Tera Melos fans will surely be pleased –the band has left more than enough intricacies to amaze anyone. The composition is stellar. Less involved fans will surely find themselves swept up in the more atmospheric vibe the band brings about this time. Overall, Trash Generator is dauntingly loud and aggressive but wonderful otherwise.