Terminal Sound System

Heavy Weather

Written by: DR on 19/08/2011 15:11:18

"Heavy Weather" is a beast of an album. Actually, it's more than that. It's that rare breed of beast, one you may have heard about but never actually heard, or considered the existent of which even possible. It was probably created by the mad scientist that is Terminal Sound System in a laboratory rather than a studio. In a mere hour, TSS has pretty much taken what I thought I knew about music, all of those stereotypes, comfort zones, genres and their boundaries, laughed at them and me, tore them apart, and re-wrote them.

Quite an opening statement, maybe, but one I think is entirely justified. You see, there are bands that fit within genres, and bands that are so great and experimental that they transcend any boundaries and therefore could never possibly be pigeon-holed. Terminal Sound System is one such band, and "Heavy Weather" is one such album. It draws from everything between post-metal to trip-hop, electronica, post-rock, ambient, hell, even shoegaze, jazz and dubsteb! Usually, you'd think that such an array of influences might be too much for one album to handle, but TSS doesn't lean too heavily on any one style; it's not like it's a post-metal album with a few beats dropped in for good measure. It's a highly intelligent, detailed and meticulously constructed piece of art.

For the first four-minutes, "Lords of the Living, Masters of the Dead" is a monstrous effort, fitted with powerful, sludgy riffs that create a mammoth sky-scraper of sound as soaring ambient melodies glide over the top of it. But then it just stops. No crescendo, no melodramatics; it's not as though it comes crashing down; it just stops, like it vanishes into thin air. After a period of quiet drum and piano combination, the wall is instantly back up to close out the song. You could argue that it is little more than your typical post-metal affair, if it wasn't for the follow up, "Run, Just Run": a texturally layered, ambient, minimalistic effort that endeavours to create harmony and spaciousness instead of the claustrophobic crushing of its predecessor.

In a way, all TSS has really done is taken his influences and blended them together to create something new, but it's not the elements themselves you will marvel at, it's how he has managed to fuse all of those elements, despite some being polar opposites in sound and scope, to fit into the vision of "Heavy Weather", and done it seamlessly. "Tides" is another instrumental behemoth, but they follow it with the dubstep-y "Broken Hands for Careful Minds". "Long Division" intersperses jazzy, careful electronica with arduous, bleak guitar-work that gradually builds up to a climax, melting the electronica to make it sound warped and sadistic. Towards the end of the album, Terminal Sound System relents a little in tracks like "Thieves" and "When It All Breaks Down", which are more star-gazing than metal, by pushing to the corners of the epic soundscapes. Although, granted, the latter does break down into a devastating post-metal end to the album.

Throughout the eclectic incorporation of styles, at it's heart "Heavy Weather" is always the same beast. There are no unsure or misplaced changes in direction or character. Every idea, no matter how weird or wild it may seem, has been executed by a masterful musician who knows what he is doing. How Terminal Sound System has managed to go off on all these tangents and experiment with so many styles, while keeping rooted in the overall colour, tone and picture of the album is nothing short of incredible.

Download: When It All Breaks Down; Run, Just Run; Long Division
For The Fans of: If Isis, Mogwai and Massive Attack had a love-child? I honestly have no fucking idea!
Listen: Official site

Release Date 13.05.2011
Denovali Records

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