Terror Management Theory

Season Of Mist
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. TMT
02. Through The Sands Of Time
03. Falling Away
04. Count Your Losses
05. Skeletons
06. Acts Of Violence
07. Friendly Fire
08. Paradigm
09. Once More
10. Mothallah

One of the greatest things about the flourishing progressive metal scene is its endless thirst for collaboration and cross-pollination. It might be a slight stretch to describe TEMIC as a supergroup, but this is another grand meeting of minds that fans of cutting-edge heaviness will doubtless embrace with alacrity. A four-way free-for-all featuring guitarist Eric Gilette (THE NEAL MORSE BAND),  keyboard maestro Diego Tejeida (DEVIN TOWNSEND/ex-HAKEN),  MARATON frontman Fredrik Bergersen Klemp and drummer Simen Sandnes (SHINING, the Norwegian one!),  "Terror Management Theory" hits many of prog metal's creative high notes, all in a proudly pristine and technically dazzling fashion.

With elements of everything from jaw-juddering djent to gorgeous, KATATONIA-style melancholic, dark rock, these songs offer a subtly new take on artful modernity. "Through The Sands Of Time" is a particularly gripping epic buoyed by some insistent, infectious riffs and Klemp's icily emotive croon. "Falling Away" gently blends motoring, momentous grooves and crunchy guitar work with a very post-rock-like squall of glacial, windswept atmospherics and a lissome, incisive melody with faint shades of EVERGREY's mutant AOR. Perhaps most effective of all, "Count Your Losses" is TEMIC in multi-discipline showboating mode, as a slick stream of riffs, electronics and hyper-emotional vocals collide, ebbing and flowing across six ingenious minutes. The quartet's self-evident technical prowess never overshadows the strength of the tunes, and Klemp's vocals fit neatly into an often-intricate arrangement.

This may be TEMIC's first record, but they sound like they have been in tune with each other's musical impulses for decades. "Skeletons" is another straight-up diamond: as heavy as anything in this refined sub-realm, but blessed with multiple twists and dynamic turns, it skillfully bridges the gap between old-school prog metal melodrama and the forward-thinking inclinations of the post-millennial set, with another star turn by Klemp providing the cerebral glue that draws those elements tightly together. Elsewhere, "Acts Of Violence" is an exquisitely shimmering detour into icy balladry that steadily changes shape and ends with TEMIC haughtily flexing their metal muscles for a big, heart-rending finish. "Friendly Fire" is one for fans of high-octane belligerence, with Gilette's solo a mesmerizing high point; "Paradigm" is artful, anthemic and tense in equal measure; "Once More" starts as airy and euphoric alt-rock, before a flurry of abrasive riffs flips the script.

As the closing "Mothallah" winds and weaves it way to a feverish conclusion, TEMIC's slightly off-kilter mastery of their chosen form is brought into sharp focus. Bursting with ideas and extraordinary individual performances, it sounds like the work of a living, breathing band, rather than some indulgent side-project. "Terror Management Theory" is a slow burner in many ways, but the sound of excellence and vast potential is unmistakable.

Author: Dom Lawson
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