A quick disclaimer before we begin – I’d never heard Tera Melos until the day I picked up Trash Generator, and I decided not to run through their back catalogue throughout my review neither. This is because I not only wanted a completely virgin experience of the band, but because their four previous records seemed rather daunting after running through Trash Generator. And that’s not because the album itself was trash; rather it’s a frenetic & punchy experience that my prog-saturated brain struggled to cope with in large doses.
Tera Melos have been pumping out albums since before 2010, and this impressive math-rock band have been hailed as one of the revolutionaries of their art, developing the sound and driving competition in the genre. They incorporate more harmonies than many of their peers, this made obvious during the vocals of the opener to Trash Generator. “System Preferences” is a really cool song, it starts off really slow, a bassy synth leading the pack, until more and more layers creep through to take charge. The ensuing cacophony is as well-metered as it is oppressive, neither getting too noisey, nor holding off it’s relentless assault.
The aforementioned melodies take hold again throughout track three, which also happens to be the title track “Trash Generator”. Using a really twangy, choppy guitar lick, this repetitive song is quite addictive, especially when coupled with the spasmodic vocals which pull the music around, fitting perfectly in the compositions. The band really make the most of their instrumental prowess too, as demonstrated in “Warpless Run”. This Fall Of Troy-esque track is really cool, and you can really hear hints of Doppelgänger in their sound, before it evolves into a Amplifier kind of climax.
A number of times I kept on having to remind myself that these guys are from California too, as a lot of their songs sound British, not only lyrically, but also in the quirkiness of their guitars, which twang like something out a 70’s British pop band. That illusion does drop however when hitting the interlude “GR30A11”, which sounds extremely Dillinger Escape Plan-esque: scratchy piano tracks play over distortion, leading the listener everywhere and nowhere.
This song leads into the catchiest song on the album, “Men’s Shirt”. Not only are the simple chords used in the song really encapsulating, the chorus and the way it’s employed is just excellent. The hooks in the lyrics are absolutely awesome, as is the slow, dark build up to said chorus. Accompanying these lyrics is some tasty distorted guitar work, before a meltdown of sorts towards the end of the song, where Tera Melos let their heavy out to play.
“A Universal Gonk” is the weirdest song on the album by far. From the weird, programmed intro all the way through the calm mediated lyrics to the highly peculiar sax solo, it was just a head melt; almost like Battles took some crystal meth. It was a little off the deep end for my taste, but I’m sure this will be a masterpiece to some of our listeners. A final mention of songs goes to the heaviest track on the album, “Super FX”. This fuzzy mess of a song is great, with loads of twangs and effects to interest the listener in the mix.
Trash Generator is a bloody cool album from start to finish, and me being someone relatively new to the genre, I was really surprised at what a varied, fun and interesting soundscape the band created. Personally, this won’t be in my top albums of the year, but for many of our readers I can see it hitting the peaks of theirs. The mix is tight and compact, with instruments locked in closely, constantly pulling you back to the music again and again with each shift and change in the music. This album is not only unique, but definitely something for bands to be looking up to as a great template in engaging, fun, progressive math-rock.
Notable Tracks: “Men’s Shirt”; “Trash Generator”; “Warpless Run”
FFO: Dillinger Escape Plan, Battles, The Fall Of Troy