Teramaze – Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace (Album Review)

Review of the TERAMAZE album ‘Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace’

by Steve Joyce

To release an eleventh studio album of quality music is a terrific achievement by Australia’s Teramaze, joining the likes of classic prog acts Rush, Pink Floyd and Yes and their (slightly) more modern counterparts Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard and Marillion. In the pantheon of eleventh albums, history will judge whether “Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace” will endure like ‘Power Windows’, The Wall’, or ‘90125’. What it’s absolutely guaranteed to do, however, is thrill Teramaze’s growing legion of passionate supporters around the world, and it will likely win them many new fans too.

“Eli…” is a concept album that finishes the trilogy of Teramaze’s Halo storyline, following 2015’s “Her Halo” and 2021’s “Sorella Minore”. The concept is intriguing: Eli – a shipwreck survivor – becomes a star attraction in a circus, but at a terrible price. The trilogy’s conclusion takes us to the very beginning of the story, which explores themes of betrayal, love and wonder.

That’s all well and good, but what’s the music like? As a listener new to Teramaze and unfamiliar with the earlier elements of this trilogy, to say nothing of the band’s 30-year history, I’m incredibly pleased to report that this is a high class album of impressive musical dexterity and packed with memorable choruses.

This 56-minute album contains six fully-formed songs and two short pieces, one of which, “A Place Called Halo”, opens proceedings with a ghostly piano, thunderstorm and a burst of epic music that hooks you in the first minute.

Track two is the eight-minute “The Will of Eli” and epitomises many of the great features of this album: powerful instrumentation, lighter acoustic passages, gorgeous sound design, a clever arrangement and an earworm chorus. It’s such a pleasure to experience a progressive metal band who remembers that songs depend on the fundamentals of feel, melody and harmony and these aspects are reassuringly central to the whole album.

Next is “Step Right Up”, an impactful song packed with several musical ideas in its eight minutes. Making effective use of lighter acoustic moments and chugging metal chords, it’s a particularly fine track for bassist Andrew Cameron, with melodic grooves that propel the song at a satisfying pace.

“I Mantissa”, a string-laden, atmospheric and spoken-word interlude, heralds the next song proper, “Madam Roma”. This song puts the ‘metal’ in ‘progressive metal’! Guitarists Dean Wells and Chris Zoupa deliver some mighty fine riffage, arpeggios and virtuoso soloing but once again, it’s a rousing chorus which lifts the nine-minute track to stratospheric levels. For me, vocalists Wells and Nathan Peachey are the standout performers on this album.

Lead single “Standing Ovation” is the sixth track, and grabs the attention with clever keyboard/guitar interplay and fast rocking verses. Tightly arranged at just under six minutes, this song is would sound at home on any Dream Theater album and is a worthy winner of Prog Report’s Track of the Month for April 2024.

Track seven, “Hands Are Tied”, is a seven-minute song of two halves and begins with a beautiful piano/vocal piece which is amongst the most affecting music of its type I can remember hearing. Giving way to a full-band epic coda blessed with a truly exhilarating guitar solo, the “Eli – I’ll always let you know” refrain is hair-raising stuff. This song is truly majestic and is my favourite on the album.

Album closer, “A Wonderful Fall From Grace” is the longest track of the album, clocking in at fourteen minutes. It’s not a bad song by any means, but following the strength of the album to this point, I was hoping for a more powerful climax for the ending and was left wanting more. That said, the musicianship is outstanding and it’s a pleasure to hear novel use of saxophone on a progressive metal song. It’s also a particularly strong track for drummer Nick Ross with some extremely stylish rhythms and fills, typical of his tasteful playing throughout the album.

Be patient with this album – it will probably take several listens, but when it inevitably ‘clicks’ you’re in for a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. With over thirty years of history, long-time Teramaze fans will be delighted that the band is continuing to create music of such excellence. Newer fans will undoubtedly want to investigate the back catalogue and as an absolute minimum, catch up with the two earlier instalments in this trilogy. Overall, I think “Hands Are Tied” would have been a better album closer, but this minor nitpick aside, this is a superb album and I highly recommend it to all lovers of good music.

Australia: famous for its natural beauty, indigenous culture, unique wildlife and distinctive landmarks. It’s now time we added ‘creative and prolific progressive metal band’ to this list. With “Eli: A Wonderful Fall of Grace”, Teramaze have delivered not just an important instalment in their impressive catalogue, they have enriched the progressive metal universe and reaffirmed what a vital and life-enhancing genre this is.

Released on May 24th, 2024

Order ‘Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace’ now at www.teramaze.com/shop

1. A Place Called Halo 01:15
2. The Will of Eli 08:20
3. Step Right Up 08:16
4. I Mantissa 01:10
5. Madam Roma 09:36
6. Standing Ovation 05:48
7. Hands Are Tied 07:32
8. A Wonderful Fall From Grace 14:31

Dean Wells / Guitars and Vocals
Nathan Peachey / Vocals
Andrew Cameron / Bass Guitar
Chris Zoupa / Guitars
Nick Ross / Drums

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