Hailing from Basel, Switzerland, founded in 2003 by DANIEL GOSTELI (Danny) – drums, vocal and percussion and ANDREA PORTAPIA (Andy) – guitars and vocals, they went through several changes before MATTHIAS ZWICK (Matt) -keyboards and synthesisers and GUILLAUME CARBONNEAU (Gys) – bass completed the current line-up in 2007.
3TM’s sound is a blend of metal influenced, atmospheric progressive rock. Three years after their first opus, ‘Dilemma on Earth’ they emerge with new album, ‘Æ Sense of Life’. A more passionate and personal album, the band wanted to incorporate things they feel matter and what made them who they are.
Divided into seven sections and running to 57 minutes, it leans to the lighter side of prog metal, with splashes of heavier elements dropped in at intervals, for added impact. They fall into the same area as Dream Theater, (though definitely superior to their latest concept), the up and coming Long Distance Calling and Leprous.
Sliding in to the instrumental INTRO on ominous rolls of foreboding keys over waves falling on the shore and gull like noises with echoing chords, leading seamlessly into THE CALL WITHIN, the first track featuring vocals, written by Gys, struggling to make sense of his own worth. The loss of a father and fatherhood a theme running through the next few tracks.
Interlinked, mostly instrumental, tracks follow in PATIENT CONFORMISM/RESSURECTION, with spoken German passages about the life of the “extremely intelligent” species, ants, with their complex behavioural strategies,defence mechanisms, rules and hierarchy. Crunching riffs and throbbing drums both race and slow down in turmoil with mellow Marillion like keyboard passages and aching solos.
Whilst there are vocals on many of the tracks, the meat of the album is taken up by the excellent musicianship of the band members, never straying too far down the road of self indulgence, showing a maturity in their playing, beyond their apparent years.
Dan’s heartbreaking spoken lyrics of a FATHER committing suicide and the Son finding a book containing his innermost thoughts and poems, follows. Do we tell children the truth or try to cover it up to soften the blow? And how does it affect them as they grow and learn the true details? There is never an easy way.
Where death stalks there is always life to balance. In FOETUS, the fear of becoming a Father manifests itself in disturbed dreams echoing a lack of self confidence, only to be banished in waking and the reassurance of his Wife that it is all part of being a family.
Two more joined tracks, in PERPETUAL I&II, follow the daily, repetitive and monotonous life of a man who in his younger days had such dreams. The feeling of being trapped conveyed in the musical passages from fine piano to punching guitars. The wish to escape but again the fear of doing so and the risks it might run, preventing a breakaway despite feeling stifled, bored and depressed. Trapped in an endless circle of commitment, merely existing.
A synthesised string like INTERLUDE of melancholy, mixed with keyboards flutters momentarily before a Gary Numan like synthesiser backed final track, HYNKEL. The inspirational use of the Charlie Chaplin speech from the ‘Great Dictator’ (as his character Adenoid Hynkel) to give a message of hope, is pure genius and finishes the album on a high as all the instruments rise to the climax of the oration.
They often say the second album is the difficult one, not for these boys. I predict bigger things to come and look forward to hearing them. Well done Gentlemen.
Released 15th December 2015
Buy ‘Æ SENSE OF LIFE’ direct from the band’s website