“All you will ever know is war” is the ominous message from the well-spoken orator on the atmospheric and gothic-sounding opener “As We March to the Fields of War”. Mr Tim Goatham’s project continues evocatively into a canvas of purposeful and heavy prog metal which comes at you from all angles. There’s a richness of flavour which told me this was going to be an album worth listening towel-balanced and bouncing seamlessly between heavy and mellow passages, “Abandon All Hope” moves to a series of Riverside-like sound waves. The variety of moods is impressive. It’s hard-hitting, dark, deep and sinister. The quality of the songs is enhanced by the flow, technique and timing. “The Baying of the Wolf” is another evocative song. A delightfully magnetic riff runs through the middle of this dark metal track. The vocal delivery has an air of Darkane in the urgency.
The centre piece of this album is the three part “To End It All”. To rapid-fire and crashing drums, the dramatic guitar line initially has a strong similarity to Opeth, before Tempus Fusion take things into their own hands and develop an ever-evolving track. Dreaminess turns to heaviness and back to shadowy darkness but always within a solid framework. There’s a real sense of progression. The Opeth sounding sections return. The drumming remains sharp. This is high on tension and imagination. The mood changes – Tempus Fusion are good at this – and part II begins with the most captivating of echoing guitar rhythms. The rhythm could belong to a film set. From somewhere the atmosphere becomes fiercely heavy. “To End It All II” is yet another transforming track of exciting developments, mixing death metal heaviness with a real edgy quality. At times it floats along. At others it’s like a machine in its insistence. Part III features another magical and hooky rhythm. Yet there’s a sense of disorderliness about it. The sound is strong. Heaviness thunders through the middle like a steamroller. It just gets stronger and stronger. With each weighty and powerful track, my attention was being captured and I found myself drawn into the dark world of Tempus Fusion. The shadowiness has the feel of Pink Floyd, the technicality that of Zero Hour, heaviness that of Opeth. The drum work is stormy and authoritative.
“This Automated Nightmare” could sum up part III of the trilogy but in fact is the title of the track which follows. It is again thoughtful and technical with a subtle and engaging rhythm. For all its dark theme, there’s an uplifting and majestic atmospheric. As at the beginning, I sense a gothic side to the darkness. Pink Floyd blends into Anathema and Mely, with a heavy framework. There’s a definite pattern. Mobility combines with menace. The threatening vocal delivery cannot be underestimated in terms of its impact. It’s deliberate but even with the changes of direction, there’s a dark continuity and there’s always something interesting. Finally the machine cranks up and echoes resound in the background of “The Predators Are Here”. There’s something sinister and shadowy about this. Sound is used well. The rhythm is colourful. The vocalist sounds as if he is singing from some distance away. The drums roll darkly. The album ends as powerfully as it began.
This album has a consistently dark and gothic pattern to it, but it could never be seen as an ode to one style. The skill lies between the technical quality and balance. Tempus Fusion know how to exploit moods through their music. Those moods are dark, but far from uniform. Heaviness, delicacy, a fertile imagination and an intelligent sense of timing make “To End It All” colourful, exotic and compelling listening.
(8 /10 Andrew Doherty)