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To-Mera
Transcendental

Company: Candlelight Records
Release: 2006
Reviewer: Etiam
Genre: Progressive

  • To-Mera would be better off as instrumentalists on this one



  • Progressive metal--alongside, say, Nazi goregrind or bedroom black metal--is one of the last metal subgenres dominated almost entirely by men. While it is unlikely that the Y chromosome will ever be the minority in the metal audience or performer bracket, female participation in genres from death metal to grindcore to Gothic has increased significantly in the past decade, exponentially outstripping prog along the way. And so, it is fair enough that the new prog coalition To-Mera would tout its vocalist, Julie Kiss, as a prime attraction. However, with this spotlight comes increased scrutiny, and on 'Transcendental' it appears that Ms. Kiss wasn't quite ready for her close-up.

    In very general terms, there are two schools of progressive vocalists: of the first are James LaBrie and Russell Allen, whose soaring melodies are 'prog' more for their virtuosity than composition; from the second come Kelly Shaefer and Leif Knashaug (the latter being quite underrated), whose quirky lines and jarring timbres replicate the complexity of the music they complement instead of leaving us humming contentedly. Julie Kiss combines these two schools, taking the smooth vocal approach of the former and the unorthodox melodies of the latter. A clever idea, but not one that succeeds in this instance. As happens with so many female metal vocalists, Kiss's performance lacks the muscle and gumption to front To-Mera's dynamics. Most songs feature at least a few instances where Kiss's mezzo-soprano can only hover around her intended pitch, and even though her vocal lines are complex and expressive, many of them aren't much good. (Repeated listens bear this out to be more than just a 'sinking in' process.)

    'Born of Ashes' is the closest To-Mera comes to unleashing its potential. Kiss's vocal line blends neatly with a driving riff as the band consistently presses the attack, rather than ceding the fore to Kiss whenever she appears. Otherwise, To-Mera is as their best during instrumental interludes, which are rare enough (for a prog band) and often stashed at the back end of a track in an attempt to wrap up its meandering midsection. In these passages, they unleash all the energy pent up during Kiss's verses with a down-tuned tremolo attack, splashing percussion, and a liberal stylistic mix-up. Genre cameos include Stratovarius-like synth scales, modern breakdowns, spry jazz, et cetera, and by virtue of the impeccable performances and a clean production, 'Trancendental' maintains a fair coherency throughout. The keyboards tend to be a little oversaturated, but are still more prudent than many others in the genre.

    After a slow start, 'Trancendental' improves towards its midpoint as the band reveals a wealth of songwriting potential that spans a half-dozen genres. Too, relatively few prog groups today are willing to orient themselves around To-Mera's punchy kind of half-thrash-and-nearly-death-metal aggression. Unfortunately, the overbearing Kiss is more a distraction than an asset, and until her interface with the rest of the band is streamlined, To-Mera would be better off as instrumentalists.



    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: TO-MERA
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    DelusionsTo-Mera
    2008
    Etiam1/7/2010
    DelusionsTo-Mera
    2008
    Raising Iron11/29/2008
    TranscendentalTo-Mera
    2006
    Etiam11/14/2008


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: TO-MERA

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: TO-MERA
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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