Review: Terra IncΩgnita – Fragments of a Ruined Mind
By Todd Naevestad
Coming to us from Athens, Greece of all places, and with a front man from New York, Terra IncΩgnita is releasing their newest album Fragments of a Ruined Mind. While they’ve been around for a while now, their first full length album releasing in 2011, they’ve been pretty quiet on the release front. It wasn’t until 2016 that they released and EP, Sign with Blood, that served as the harbinger for this album. That kind of time can be good for an album, letting ideas mature and grow. Is this new release a reflection of the time past?
I wasn’t familiar with Terra IncΩgnita prior to getting this album, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But with the first track, they set up an exciting expectation for me. Orchestral and grandiose, it felt like the prologue to something epic. And they follow it up with an excellent, hard hitting opener. The song keeps the grandeur of the intro track and adds the power guitars and the rest of what makes symphonic metal so appealing. From then on Terra IncΩgnita pulls you into the world that their music is trying to create. The instrument work is great. The guitars are heavy and powerful, and when the piano is used, it dominates the atmosphere. I want to give a special shout out to the drum work of Dimitris”Koko”Kokonezis. Each song seems to feature a churning sea of drums at the base of the song. It’s the kind of foundation that helps the holds the rest of the music that much higher.
While they have a great sound and know how to play to their strengths, the originality isn’t quite as strong. The songs are good and while listening to them they create a great rhythm that each successive song builds on, but when you look at it as a whole, it sounds like what has been done before. There isn’t one thing I can point to and say “This is what makes Terra IncΩgnita special from other bands.” What swings it for me is that I don’t know how to feel about main vocalist Billy Vass. One the one hand, Vass has a great voice. It’s strong, deep, and has a range that Terra IncΩgnita could have used more. On the other, it lacks a musicality that the tracks need. While clear and crisp, it doesn’t resonate like the instruments do. It’s more a vehicle to deliver the lyrics as opposed to an integral part of the album sound. His voice seems like it would serve better voicing a He-Man cartoon more so than singing for his band. I like his voice, and on slower songs like A Day Without Loss he sounds so much better, but I don’t think it is well suited for the kind of music Terra IncΩgnita is going for.
Epic and punchy, Fragments of a Ruined Mind is an enjoyable listen. They manage to keep my attention through the whole album and get me invested in their music. While not being all that different, the elements Terra IncΩgnita does well they do very well. I would like to see a better cohesion going forward and more memorable tracks, but still a good listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommendations: Amon Amarath, Storm Seeker, Apocalypse Orchestra