Terraformer wants you to believe their latest release ‘Creatures’ is one of the hardest hitting, pulse raising, clad in darkness albums you’ll hear all year. But when you pull back the post-metal veil you’ll quickly discover this album has just as many post-rock intricacies as it has post-metal appeal. This three piece belgian brute has been on my radar since their 2012 effort ‘The Sea Shaper’ which solidified the band as an upcoming powerhouse that suits my post-metal fancy. I have to be in pretty rare form to truly enjoy brutal vocals, so Terraformer’s heavy instrumental doom and gloom passages really connected with heavier preference.
Don’t let the opening moments of “Beast” fool you. Like a lap dog showing it’s teeth the first time it meets you, this track is quick to mellow down from it’s brutal opening and quickly simmers to a post-rock meets prog-metal boil. High pitched guitars occupy the upper channels while a ground army of distortion marches in the lower levels. Add a dash of spiraling crescendo and a gratuitous helping of cymbal riding, add a menacing and low key middle and you have all the ingredients for a spicy opener. “Wolves Beyond The Border” is the track where the realization kicks in that this is going to be a special album. The slow burn in this song is the real treat, as the build is almost always better than the peak. The aura and atmosphere that’s been created in the first two tracks is both eerie and intense.
“Wyverne” has a slightly friendlier appeal to it with it’s catchy beat and melodically warm distorted guitar tones. The technical drumming truly shines here prior to the uprising of the guitar for one grand finale of layered grandeur. “Louve” serves as a short transition number to help set the table for “Kelpie” which is probably the go-to track I would use if I was introducing someone to Terraformer for the first time. This song is a beat driven track chalked full of technical prowess, overpowering distortion, layered clean guitar work and a badass build up leading into a payoff of high pitched crescendo that streaks across the upper channels like shooting stars. All of this is capped by a signature heavy ending we’ve grown to love out of Terraformer.
“Géants” follows and while I enjoy the song I definitely feel as though it is clearly upstaged by “Kelpie” in almost every possible way. It’s almost as if one of the two short interlude tracks should have been slotted between the two tracks. “Aegir” comes in and lightens the mood for “Alecta”, the album’s closer. “Alecta” brings a much different approach to songwriting and really sets the mood with a much slower, more reserved pacing. There are vocals here, but they are minimal and add a new dynamic and depth to the band’s sound. An elongated finale that lasts about three minutes slowly draws this eight track, 43 minute album to a close.
‘Creatures’ is the realization of a full potential for Terraformer. With a tremendously focused effort, this album has all the tell tale signs of an album that will withstand the test of time. I can’t finish this review without mentioning I’m in love with the production of the album either. As a snobby audiophile I applaud the mixing and mastering throughout the album. Guitar layers are deep and bassy, the heavy cymbal riding is placed in the mix in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the bigger picture. All of this is done while the band maintains an overall tight sound, keeping the atmosphere of ‘Creatures’ in tact.
The kid gloves are off and amateur hour is over. This album signifies the rise of the next major player in the post-rock scene. Albums of this caliber that seemingly come out of nowhere are the reason why I love this music and why I tirelessly plunge hour after hour into Postrockstar. Let’s be completely honest, with the exception of music in the nordic countries, the music industry as a whole isn’t in great shape. Those on top are more in it for the fame than the art. It genuinely bothers me that ‘Creatures’ will potentially only be heard by a few thousand people while big label backed Top 40 entertainers (because let’s face it, few at that level are actually “artists”) can put their name on any badly overproduced track and it will be heard and lauded by millions. Fuck that. People need more albums like ‘Creatures’ in their life. This album is A+ and is easily a must listen to album.