|Tempus Fusion - ‘To End It All’ (Dark Place Records)|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Friday, 04 January 2013 03:30|
I must admit that I always get a little bit wary when I see the term "progressive metal". I mean, progression is about moving forward, pushing boundaries to their limits. To me, it means a ream of diverse bands who took the step of taking music to the next level, from Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience through Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to the likes of Rush, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Dream Theater and Mayhem – they all pushed the envelope just that little bit further, opening new musical horizons to the unsuspecting listener.
Personally, the modern generation of so-called "progressive metal" acts don’t really do anything to… well… progress. Many of them have been branded as "math metal" and to me that’s a description that just about sums up many of this new breed of bands: metal by numbers. How many notes can we cram into the last four milliseconds of this solo? How many chord progressions can we assimilate into these 160 blastbeats per second?
Of course, there are a few, very notable, exceptions. Mastodon, Meshuggah and Scar Symmetry, for example, are consistently innovative, easily standing alongside the likes of Nile and Opeth as true pioneers of their respective sounds. Hampshire quintet Tempus Fusion may not be in a position to join these illustrious ranks, but their self-produced debut album is an impressive affair – genuinely exciting in places, definitely innovative and an extremely entertaining listen.
Clocking in at a massive 72 minutes, the album is highlighted by the huge triptych of the title track, which gives all five musicians more than enough room to stretch their not inconsiderable abilities, not least vocalist Max Pharnam, whose performance is just superb, running the entire gamut of his range, especially on the epic middle act. Another powerhouse performance is that of drummer James Smith, who counterbalances the mood and atmosphere of each element with a finely balanced combination of subtlety and out-and-out blastbeat fury, while twin guitarists Tim Goatham and Anthony Quinn also deliver thoughtful performances.
Yes, there are moments of that "metal by numbers" approach I alluded to earlier, such as on the disappointing ‘The Baying Of The Wolf’, but overall there is more than enough here (the industrial tinged ‘This Automated Nightmare’ is another standout moment) to demonstrate the Tempus Fusion indeed have the ability to progress further and prove a real challenge to the likes of the hugely over-rated Tesseract, in particular.