Elephant parasites and lion-dragons prevail in a Narnia-esque scene that is draped over a goat skull. Dark guitars and heavy drumming feed these monsters from a the richly textured soil. Judging from the record sleeve and the first notes of album opener “Beast”, you would guess that Terraformer are the darkest around. However, once the album opens up, the animals become more like the ones we know in our own little world. Sometimes cruel, but more often beautiful and majestic in the eyes of their Creator.
Terraformer present us with their second full-length “Creatures” – 45 minutes of densely arranged instrumental rock from Liège, Belgium. I say “instrumental rock”, yet on this record Terraformer take everything that is not traditional rock, metal or hardcore and merge it together. This collection of eight songs refers to little of the rock of the 20th century. The only thing they share with the past are their song titles, which refer to elements from nature and Northern European mythology.
While listening to “Creatures”, it is quite obvious that this album is being carried by the drummer. This album is not one continuous drum solo, but the drums are dominantly played, rich in the use of toms and they sound clear in the mix. The guitars are submissive, yet they fill up every hole that is available with a variety of tones, ranging from clean to distorted. Sometimes they are tremolo-picked while in the shape of soundscapes they drench the record in synth-like tones. Especially these guitar soundscapes give this album a dream-like quality. “Creatures” is an album that pulls you in and makes you travel to another place – far away, subconscious. Then a new melody kicks in with brutal force and you awake, again in another place.
RELEASE DATE: 18 April 2014
LABEL: Dunk! Records / Revolvermann Records / Emotionally Unstable Records (Vinyl) / Puzzle Records / Hackebeil Records (Tape) / Salsifis Conspiracy (CD)
This is what Terraformer do right. “Creatures” has a tremendous amount of atmosphere on offer. The choir parts in “Wolves Beyond the Border” are totally in place, eerie and haunting. Then “Wyverne” comes on with a beautiful melody and powerful chugging guitars. Near the end of the album, the soothing dreamscapes of “Aegir” and the vocal screams in “Alecta” give the listener a vivid memory of the place he has just visited.
What a dream! But then you wake up – back to reality. The bass on this album is a bit of a disappointment. The parts are well enough played, no doubt, yet the volume is low and the album is so densely mixed that I’m having a hard time hearing its rumbling, earthy tone. It’s the same production flaw that makes the “brutal force” I mentioned before sound like a brick wall. Heavy parts kick in, but they never really kick out until the whole band goes quiet. There are tons of layers of guitars that completely drench out any negative space. This makes it really hard to consciously listen to the album.
The songs have wonderful names, they are inventive, but the tracks themselves don’t have much of a face to me, which is a shame. Listening to this album often makes my mind wonder and it makes me miss out on a lot of good parts that just don’t reach my consciousness.
In the end, Terraformer release a sophomore album that sounds mature. The song writing is solid, the tone is tremendous. The production however doesn’t do the material justice, and the avalanche of guitars prevent this album from soaring, leaving the listener in a status-quo between heaven and earth.