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Teramaze - Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace review

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Band: Teramaze
Album: Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace
Style: Progressive metal
Release date: May 2024

01. A Place Called Halo
02. The Will Of Eli
03. Step Right Up
04. I Mantissa
05. Madam Roma
06. Standing Ovation
07. Hands Are Tied
08. A Wonderful Fall From Grace

After 5 albums in a bit over 3 years, Teramaze waited 18 months before releasing their next effort; it’s hardly a long wait, but it might have been just long enough to recalibrate and get back on form.

2022’s Flight Of The Wounded represented something of a drop in quality following a very successful 2021 for Teramaze. Perhaps the highlight of 2021 was the title track from the first of two albums released by the band that year, Sorella Minore; this 26-minute prog odyssey of a song was notable in part due to featuring several guest vocalists, including former frontman Nathan Peachey, and also for continuing the story established on Her Halo, the sole record Peachey appeared on prior to that point. With Peachey returning to the Teramaze fold in 2023, it represented an opportunity to continue the Halo story; as the intro track “A Place Called Halo” reprises a sample from (and is titled with a lyric from) “Sorella Minore”, it would indeed seem that Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace represents the third part of Teramaze’s Halo trilogy.

For those (like me) who aren’t following the story of these albums, there are musical reasons to be excited about this return to Halo. As much as I’ve enjoyed several of their other records, Her Halo and “Sorella Minore” are my favourite Teramaze output thus far; part of that is to do with Nathan Peachey being an excellent vocalist, but also both recordings have more of an old-school melodic progressive metal sound, and while in general I’m much more inclined towards more modern styles of prog-metal these days, there’s something about the way that Teramaze write this type of classic-sounding music that I find to be very compelling. Anyone who shares those sentiments will likely be excited to learn that Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace is perhaps the band’s most consistently proggy record since Her Halo, and shares a lot of its strengths.

As far as the vocals are concerned, it’s a pleasure to hear Peachey involved with Teramaze again; he’s got such a knack for imbuing authentic emotion into his singing that really elevates the material, along with a very pleasant tone. The song that perhaps most benefits from his performance is “Standing Ovation”, one of the shorter and more straightforward cuts here; it’s an up-tempo rocker with some danceable drum rhythms in the verses, yet Peachey brings a lot of emotion to the chorus, and especially a really satisfying post-solo bridge section. However, bandleader Dean Wells has been doing a solid job as frontman since taking on lead vocal duties in 2020, and more than holds his own now that he’s a co-lead vocalist; the duo have a lot of opportunities to play off one another, but Wells is given his chance to shine on the lengthy piano-driven prog ballad “Hands Are Tied”.

Instrumentally, Teramaze match up to the vocals well; aside from the aforementioned songs, the tracklist here is filled with lengthy prog tracks, and most of these feature very satisfying melodic guitar solos. Sometimes they feature multiple solos that vary in approach, such as on “The Will Of Eli”, whose instrumental-heavy second half features classic prog soloing, a tasty acoustic Latin guitar segment, and finally some effective back-and-forths between blues guitar leads and tender, gentle vocals. “Step Right Up”, which begins in rather quiet fashion, is another track that builds to an instrumental-heavy second half, and it also features a scene-stealing solo later on.

In contrast to the lightness of this song, “Madam Roma” is a heavy, progtastic cut, and is perhaps the standout track on Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace. There’s a brooding vibe to the verses, which are fleshed out with pleasant instrumental textures containing subtle Eastern-influenced melodies, while the chorus brings weight and gravitas. There’s again a lot of soloing in the second half; I’m admittedly not a big fan of the angry shouts and chugs in the bridge following the first solo, but there’s a passionate climax after this with some really evocative vocals, and these closing minutes are perhaps the closest the album gets to recapturing the irresistible vibes of “Sorella Minore”.

“Madam Roma” is the centrepiece of Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace, but its climax is its 14-minute title track, and while Teramaze had incredible success writing a super-long song with “Sorella Minore” (which I think is unquestionably a modern-day prog classic), “A Wonderful Fall From Grace” doesn’t ever threaten to deliver the same memorability or peaks. Nevertheless, it’s a solid closing song that features good interplay between the two vocalists, and culminates in a final few minutes that have a pleasantly joyous vibe (saxophone and all), ending the record in uplifting fashion.

While this is seemingly the final instalment of the Halo story, I hope that Peachey will remain in Teramaze going forward, as every instance of his involvement with the group has demonstrated that Peachey, Wells and the rest of Teramaze together represents a really fruitful collaboration; the band are back on track with Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 23.05.2024 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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