The sleeper awakens into a world he no longer recognizes. The ruined landscape spread out before him, laid waste by the hellish torrent that departed as swiftly as it came. He stumbles through the wreckage in search of…something, anything recognizable.
Thus, is the setup of Tempest, an immersive instrumental concept album from UK-based Telepathy. It’s essentially a tone poem; an immense and brooding maelstrom of powerful riffs and lilting melodic passages that’s as surprisingly beautiful as it is uncompromisingly heavy.
Telepathy is one of a handful of instrumental metal bands (they describe themselves as “instru-metal”) that has taken elements from many of the popular post-2000 sub-genres and woven them together into a sound that is often more unique than the influences they’ve drawn from. Fellow UK act Kylver and US-based Tempel have released similarly engrossing albums over the past couple years. These bands have the genre-nazis working in high gear trying to find a predefined niche to shove them into, but are stubbornly refusing to be pigeonholed. On Tempest you will find elements of classic Sabbath-inspired doom, the intricate guitar orchestrations of post-rock bands like Pelican and Russian Circles, the moody atmospheric black metal of Alcest and Ihsahn and the razor sharp arrangements of Gojira. However, in the end they sound like themselves. If someone forced me to assign a category to their music I would say “Riff Worship”.
A track like Smoke From Distant Fires is as evocative as the title implies. The dirge-stomp of the introductory segment sets the oppressive atmosphere; the guitars alternating between massive power chords and crystalline lead statements as the rhythm section methodically pushes the arrangement forward. The surge of the opening then recedes when a beautiful clean guitar part comes in, throwing light into the dark, the rhythm section slowly joins in and the song builds to another powerful crescendo. The ‘push & pull’ dynamic carries on throughout the album, effortlessly creating dramatic tension as arrangements swell to the breaking point and then release satisfyingly. It’s incredibly engrossing listening, Telepathy’s compositions refuse to become background music, they capture the imagination throughout. Other highlights include Celebration Of Decay (featuring many juicy apocalyptic riffs), the groove-laden Hiraeth and the epic Water Divides The Tide.
Tempest is a major leap forward from their debut album 12 Areas. While that album contained many of the same elements it was a more chaotic listen, as each track featured so many lightning fast changes the listener barely had time to breathe. With Tempest they’ve relaxed the structure considerably, allowing riffs to build and develop slowly, giving the listener a chance to really savour the mood the compositions create. By reducing the complexity, they’ve increased the impact of the whole, it’s a far more organic and satisfying experience.
Another reason for the success of this album is the stellar production courtesy of Jaime Gomez Arellono (Messenger). The sound of the album is massive, without any of the harsh compression that often hinders the power of modern metal productions. The mix and mastering is as spacious and well-defined as the compositions themselves, easily one of the best-sounding albums I’ve heard so far in 2017.
While Tempest will surely be embraced by the metal crowd I think it’s a powerful enough statement to also attract the attention of progressive rock fans and lovers of instrumental music in general.
01. First Light (1:38)
02. Smoke From Distant Fires (6:57)
03. Celebration Of Decay (7:44)
04. Echo Of Souls (5:33)
05. Apparition (4:52)
06. Hiraeth (7:52)
07. Water Divides The Tide (8:09)
08. Metanoia (8:10)
Total Time – 50:49
Piotr Turek – Guitar
Albert Turek – Drums
Richard Powley – Guitar
Teddy-James Driscoll – Bass
Record Label: Golden Antenna Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 31st March 2017