Tepetricy – Shaking the Rust Internally
I’ve been a music nerd forever. I was downloading MP3′s while everyone else was still going for disc format. I knew what Napster was before it was a household name. I don’t start off my reviews like this to try and give myself some credibility and I sure as hell am not trying to impress you. I’m just bringing it up as a point of reference. I have been using the interwebs for over a decade in the never-ending search for music, new and old. Even though I have found a large handful of stuff that I like, it’s rare that I am blown away by something. That’s where Tepetricy comes in. After listening to their debut EP, released in 2007, I can honestly say that I am blown away.
So now I need to explain why and hopefully get other people to feel the same way as I do, which is going to be a tough task. The reason this is a hard review is because Tepetricy is one of those rare bands who are truly unique. They have a sound that is all of their own. Of course certain elements are obviously influenced by conventional rock and metal music, but it’s the combination of all of their influences that sets them apart from any other number of rock/metal acts. Typing about the band is going to do them no justice, they need to be listened to so that you can understand how good they are. This is the job of a music reviewer though, so here is hoping I can do these guys justice.
The album opens up with Fear of the Absent Mind. The track is probably the softest/slowest track on the EP, so it is a slightly strange choice for the opener. The base of the track is some lighter guitar with a piano backing. Piano really doesn’t work very often when it’s mixed with rock. I think if I sat and thought about it, I’d bet that I can count the number of awesome rock tracks with piano accompaniment on my fingers… and two of them are on this EP. The lighter music picks up and becomes harder in the chorus with Stephen Fremling’s strong vocals throughout. This is a pretty straightforward track, but it’s very good. I just think it might be a little better as the closer.
After a very solid start the album really starts to soar when you get to the tracks following the opener. A Lonesome Night in Triage starts again on a lighter note, which had me a little worried these guys would be a little too soft for my liking, but once you get past the opening seconds it kicks into a harder chorus with clean vocals. The chorus is where you will get the first taste of what makes this band different (and better) than 99% of any other group mixing rock and electronic. The chorus is supplemented by what sounds like a 16-bit video game sound track, and I mean that in the best way possible. The synths really add to the chorus here and they give the track more depth then it could have without them. I know that you are reading something like “16-bit video game sound track” and rolling your eyes, thinking it’s a stupid gimmick or they are going for the Nintendocore. All I can say is that what they do works and it works really well. In lesser hands it might be cheesy, here it blends in perfectly with the music.
After the first two tracks I am sure you are expecting more of the same, wonderful clean vocals that Fremling has already delivered except he decides to shred his way through the entire track with a perfectly pitched scream. Again the track uses those sytnhs that you might expect to hear in F Zero (from the SNES days, in case anyone was wondering) as well as a happy piano chop that doesn’t seem to fit, but it works perfectly. This track has hints of Dog Fashion Disco in it, except not as heavy and abrasive. After the heaviest track on the album we go back to something a little softer. Cenica Winds is easily my favorite track because it perfectly blends everything this band is good at. The track opens as a ballad but the group builds layer upon layer until the track ends with a heavy guitar riff, Fremling’s screaming and synths that stray away from what they have used in the last two tracks. Cenica Winds has what sounds like a wind instrument in the background the entire track. When they build to the explosion the synths turn into something bordering on a symphony. Everything blends for a perfect ending to the track. Artists that are able to start slow and finish with an explosion have always been my favorite. It’s a delicate balance between the hard and the soft, and it’s pulled off perfectly here.
The album finishes with 2 more strong tracks. The Watchers is again a really good blend of slow and fast, with the track picking up at each chorus. After the second chorus the band breaks it down a little and kicks into a piano fitting of some chamber pop. Again, it sounds strange, but surprisingly, it works well. While the piano continues the guitarist goes into a Bucketheadesq solo. Petrified Library finishes the album with what the bend is best at, starting slow and finishing strong. The track could border on a ballad if it didn’t get so hard at the end. Here the synths are used to a more symphonic effect similar to Cenica Winds.
This is the best EP I have heard in forever. If I could go back to 2007 and re-do my “best of” list this would be on it somewhere in the top 15. I have made some comparisons to groups like Dog Fashion Disco and Sky Eats Airplane. I want to make sure that I’m not misleading anyone so I need to add that Tepetricy is a little lighter on the metal than the aforementioned bands. That doesn’t mean they aren’t heavy, just not quite as heavy as what I have used for comparisons. They have taken elements from the groups and have placed it in a very listenable format. Tepetricy have blended electronics in a unique way that sounds better than I have heard in a long time. Victor Quade, their keyboardist/sequencer needs some praise. While the music and vocals are great, it’s Quade’s synths that make this EP as good as it is.
The best EP I have heard in years. One of the best mixes of organic and synthetic music that I can remember. If I haven’t convinced you yet, or if I have scared you off by any of the comparisons or descriptive language, just ignore me and go listen to this. You will be happy you did.