[22nd February 2013]
[Trust No One Recordings]
01.The Redeeming Teratoma
02.The Compression Chamber
03.Black Pearl In A Crystalline Shell
04.House Of Flesh
05.The Nucleus Turbine
08.At The Foot Of The Tree
Precious little can be said factually about Terra Tenebrosa. Enigmatic to a ridiculous degree, all that the internet can seem to say about the band is that they are made up of ex-members of the band Breach. Beyond this, it’s just little scraps of information here and there. Side projects, touring schedules, etc. To be secretive about your membership and activities as a band in this day and age is not only risky, it’s difficult. Terra Tenebrosa make it work for them. The fact that nobody knows shit about this band just makes the whole thing cooler.
Post metal with tinges of black metal atmosphere. Two albums in, that’s about as succinct an explanation as can be given for this band. Distorted, heavily processed vocals, tribal drums, swirling, eerie soundscapes, and driving guitars combine in a uniquely dark and intoxicating way. There, that’s a much less succinct explanation.
It’s just all mood, all the time. There is no lull anywhere on the record. The dynamics are immaculately plotted out. Whenever it feels like there is some sort of reprieve coming, some familiarity to let you catch your breath, you get a new, even more sinister passage just around the bend. Whether it’s a driving, headnod-inducing rock song, or one of several slower, more sparse atmospheric pieces, every song is so rich with drama. It almost feels like a morbid opera, or some other sort of grisly theatrical presentation. Evocative and stimulating to an impressive degree, one can’t help but be affected.
Here’s the catch: it sounds just like the first album, The Tunnels. No hyperbole intended, no exaggerations; it is unmistakably JUST LIKE the first album. To some degree, this was obviously intentional. Some of the synth sounds and textural motifs are too close to be accidental. For example, “Disintegration” sounds like a continuation of “The Mourning Stars” from the first album. It’s as if this is meant to be a companion piece, something you’re supposed to listen to alongside The Tunnels. However, the effect is that it just feels lazy. It’s something like Steal This Album, or Amnesiac, where a band releases an album that is made up of b-sides from the recording session of an earlier one. Only with those albums, System Of A Down and Radiohead were able to establish enough separation and individuality that the listener didn’t have to feel cheated. What Terra Tenebrosa have done with The Purging just feels like they sold us short on the first record, as though they could have made it longer, but instead held out on half of it for a later release.
Ultimately though, this is a very good, very stirring work from a band that is making some wonderfully creepy music. They have managed to create a unique style that is layered and complex, and between the music, their image, and their secretive nature, they have also managed to build a reputation out of mysteriousness. It would have been nice to get some diversity out of this album, but for some, consistency can be just as virtuous. For those who enjoyed The Tunnels, this album is a guaranteed pleasure.