Hooray for the U.K.! Well at least for progressive metal in 2012. I’m tellin’ ya, this year is just simply amazing from the Brits. So far we’ve had great new albums by Enochian Theory, Linear Sphere and Threshold as well as fantastic debuts by the new supergroup Headspace (featuring Threshold’s Damian Wilson and keyboardist Adam Wakeman) and heavy melodic newcomers Tempus Fusion. (We’re also supposed to be getting the new Aeon Zen soon but I have yet to find out if it’s coming out this year) Now, after all of this bounty we have the new album by To-Mera. And of course it’s fantastic. Epic in scope and filled with tons of beautiful softer melodic textures, this is probably the best album the band has produced yet.
If you don’t know To-Mera (and all fairly knowledgeable prog metallers should by now!) they’re a symphonic prog rock/metal band fronted by the stunning Julie Kiss (looks and voice) and produce a very dramatic style of prog metal with a ton of often epic songs that are extremely well constructed, are filled with joy and passion and often build to extremely dramatic and wonderful finishes. They were formed in 2006 and Exile is their third full-length album and first recording since their 2009 EP, Earthbound. This band must be great to see live and is definitely one of those prog metal bands that could equally appeal to prog rock fans.
One of the highlights of Exile is how much I’ve really grown to love keyboardist Richard Henshall’s playing. He’s not a showy player but man are his textures and writing are just gorgeous. He’s also with Haken and the two bands do have some similarities especially in all of the sometimes melancholy yet often joyous themes that both bands excel at. As much as I like Haken, I actually like this band better. Julie Kiss has a gorgeous, somewhat kittenish voice and To-Mera avoids using the more overtly showy parts that Haken likes so much (which do work for them but sometimes come across as a bit kitschy). There’s not a weak song on the album but to really get a taste for what To-Mera can do, check out the 12-minute epic closer “All I Am” which has an almost Pat Metheny-esque compositional structure where it begins with a soft piano intro, a great plaintive vocal melody, a fantastic jazz break (complete with the perfect organ backdrop), some more wonderful epic piano work from Henshall before finally ending with a glorious finale. It’s a truly wonderful song and a fitting closer to one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.
Thanks to Spotify, you can hear the entire album for yourself along with the Earthbound EP and their band’s two earlier albums, 2006’s Transcendental and 2008’s Delusoins via the Spotify playlist below and if you want to buy a copy, you can do so via the Amazon link at the end of this post.
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