Someone whose musical opinion I respect very much once said, “If you’re going to be generic, make sure you write good songs.” Johari’s latest output, Terra, adheres to this idea. Capitalizing on the sound made popular on Ashe O’Hara-era TesseracT material but with an added post-hardcore edge, the group’s second full-length is a well-written, if not particularly innovative, progressive metal offering. Terra will be available October 6.
Johari open the record with two contrasting tracks, “Wind” and “In The Garden Of Beasts”. Together, these songs effectively introduce the strongest elements of the record. “Wind” is an upbeat djent/rock song, where a minimalist, low-tuned guitar riff set against vocalist Connor Hill’s smooth, melodious voice and ambient atmospherics make for a track reminiscent of Ashe O’Hara projects and Guiding Lights-era Skyharbor. Juxtaposed against this is the second track: “In The Garden of Beasts” has a straightforward but hooky groove where Hill introduces his post-hardcore shouts. Later in the track, chugged syncopation underlies some melodic tapped lines, evoking a genre-bent Born of Osiris.
Though the aforementioned contrast between tracks makes for an interplay that captured my interest, when Johari veer too far to one side, the record loses a little bit of momentum. Hill’s vocals remain stellar throughout the album, but the quieter sections of the record seem to blend together with a lack of discernibly different elements between some sections. Thankfully, the excellent lead guitar/rhythm combo (a la Monuments) on “The Empty City” and Volumes-esque grooves on “King Tide” provide some welcome dynamic shifts. First single, “Void,” is one of the album’s more well-composed tracks, with an exceptionally strong hook in its chorus and a recurring vocal motif that plants itself deep within your ears.
The final three of Terra’s eleven tracks are especially strong. The title track, at third last, has one of the most memorable opening riffs of the record, and shows Hill lose any restraint he had in his vocal delivery for one of the more of his impassioned, enraged performances on the record. “Odyssey” explores a more atmospheric angle to the band’s sound, while “Motion In The Dust” pairs one of the more engaging, immediate instrumentals on the album with Hill’s incredibly catchy falsetto and harmony heavy vocal lines.
Terra is a fun offering of ambient djent music that occasionally offers a more aggressive edge. It is this mix of diverse musical moments that make for some intriguing songs. Unfortunately, the occasional instrumental bit may feel less than engaging, and some some similar sounding songs are placed too close together, especially in the middle of the record. However, Hill’s excellent vocals, some straightforward but effective riffs, and a penchant for solid songwriting all make Terra a must-listen for those waiting with baited breath for more music from TesseracT, Skyharbor, and Voices From The Fuselage.
Notable Tracks: “In The Garden of Beasts”; “Void”; “Terra”; “Motion In The Dust”
FFO: TesseracT, Skyharbor, Voices From The Fuselage