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Thank You Scientist - Terraformer CD (album) cover


Thank You Scientist


Crossover Prog

3.96 | 257 ratings

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5 stars Terraformer is an amazing new album from the New Jersey septet. While not, in my opinion, as strong as their 2016 effort Stranger Heads Prevail, the album is still an incredible work, showing off some of the band's most complex arrangements.

"Wrinkle" is an excellent, relatively mellow (for Thank You Scientist) instrumental album opener, which segues into...

"Fxmldr" has some great riffs, but is notably a less heavy track than most of the stuff off of the last two albums (not that this is a bad thing). The chorus is almost pop-punk in its nature, which actually serves as a nice contrast to the more complex verses and the usual extensive bridge section. There's even a nice saxophone solo in the middle of the bridge. Not quite as intense of a second song as past albums have had, but seeing as Terraformer is a double album, this choice makes sense so as to not start with an energy that would then be difficult to maintain. The song ends very strong with Marrano screaming out a high note at the end of the last chorus, and then ending somewhat abruptly after the outro.

"Swarm" finally gives us the release of the energy that's been building, a heavier song than the previous one. Some great guitar and sax interplay here, as well as some very crazy riffing. The song very much harkens back to Stranger Heads Prevail, with a more complex arrangement than "Fxmldr"; however, it still has some more mellow moments that weren't often present on their previous albums. There's an excellent guitar solo in counterpoint with the saxophones, which has a very cool effect overlapping effect.

"Son of a Serpent" has a more laid back, fusion-y (and sometimes funky vibe) than "Swarm", bringing the intensity down a little bit, though there is still plenty of energy in the choruses and the bridge section. Of course, the guitar work is impeccable as usual, which is constant across the whole album; Monda is stronger than ever with his riffs and solos. On this song in particular, he has a nice groovy fusion solo which builds in energy throughout. There's a lovely mellow vocal section after the solo before the song erupts with energy in a sort of anthemic outro.

"Birdwatching" is a rather short and much more mellow drum and bass style track that builds in intensity towards the end. It serves very well as a sort of palate cleanser for the listener. If there's one thing that Terraformer does better than Stranger Heads Prevail, it's giving the listener a break. Stranger Heads Prevail was all killer, no filler, and while these shorter tracks aren't filler material, they serve as a brief pause from the band's usual intensity.

"Everyday Ghosts" is one of the album's longer, 10 minute tracks, and it navigates through a variety of styles. It starts rather mellow, coming off the previous track, before breaking into a funky drum beat. There is a brief atmospheric pre-chorus which quickly builds into a groovy chorus. The second chorus builds to a peak before beginning another section of the song, marked by an excellent guitar riff and as usual, some excellent drum work from Fadem. This is followed by a brief, complex instrumental section which heads into a guitar solo. The guitar solo on this song is absolutely excellent as it goes from virtuosic to more melodic and back again. All in all, the song is marked by incredible guitar work and the band's usual complex arrangements.

"Chromology" is another 10 minute song, this time an instrumental one. The song is very jazzy, and aside from the usual complex arrangements and guitar work, is marked by its excellent synthesizer work, though I'm not sure by whom. There are some great moments in this song, and it maintains the energy of the album while showcasing the band's jazzier side. It also shows their experimental side, both in the arrangements and in the wah-sax solo. There is another excellent guitar solo, as well as a rare bass solo which gives McCorry to show off his skills at the forefront. Being an instrumental, it gives the band lots of chances to show off its chops, including a violin solo from Karas.

"Geronimo" is a more mellow song, with a bit of a simpler arrangement, giving the listener a nice break. However, it has a tension throughout it that allows it to maintain the energy of the album; it feels as though it could release the energy at any moment, but hangs on to it until the bridge section gives us a little bit of a release. However, there is still something left to be desired, which carries over into...

"Life of Vermin" starts off with a groovy vibe, still holding onto the tension from "Geronimo". It finally releases the energy in the epic chorus. The song continues to alternate between its groovy, mellower sections and its more intense, heavier sections, taking the listener on a bit of an adventure throughout the song. I never thought I would hear a "heavy" trumpet solo, but this song just proves me wrong. The song continues to build energy until the very end, at which point the listener is ready for another break, which we get in the form of...

"Shatner's Lament" is another brief song, cleansing the listener's auditory palate. It's a very jazzy tune with an excellent muted trumpet line in counterpoint with the saxophone, along with some great string arrangements. It is very brief however, and leads us into...

"Anchor" is the third 10 minute song on this album, and it starts off rather mellow with some very dramatic instrumentation, particularly in the drumming. There is some great acoustic guitar on this track, which plays nicely with the string arrangements. Finally, the song breaks out into a groove just before the first pre-chorus and chorus. The first half of this song has an amazing tension, as it builds energy without releasing it. We finally get the release as the energy erupts at the bridge of the song. We get an incredible wah solo from Monda, before the song reaches a peak and comes down as the vocal bridge comes in before releasing the energy again. The last chorus is more intense than the previous ones, and brings us to...

"New Moon" is the last shorter track on the album. A bit exotic sounding with some cool string arrangements, it's nothing special, but it gives the listener a break before...

"Terraformer" is the last song on the album, and it's one of the heaviest, almost sounding like Scale the Summit at the beginning of the track. The song has some great vocals from Marrano, and the chorus is on the catchy side just like "Fxmldr". Despite being one of the catchier songs on the album, the arrangements are still very complex. It's nice to have such an intense song closing off the album; we've traversed the band's dynamic range throughout the album, but end on a high note.

All in all, Terraformer shows off the jazzy side of the band more than their previous releases, and while its length detracts from its value a little bit, it does a great job of giving the listener dynamic breaks throughout the album. Not as strong as Stranger Heads Prevail, but still an excellent album and well worth the listen. 4.8/5 stars.

tempest_77 | 5/5 |


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