To-Mera? Too-Poor more like
It's amazing how a word of mouth, a debut album and a double page spread in Metal Hammer can bring the crowds in, as the Darwin Suite was full for the Friday second stage headliners To-Mera. I'd been tipped by my friend that To-Mera were worth catching; a mix of metal and experimental jazz was the description. So I stood in the ever increasing stifling atmosphere of the Darwin Suite waiting for the German 5-piece.
To say that To-Mera were dreadful would be a little unfair but perhaps many would agree with such a statement. Straight from the first note it was obvious the mix was poor. The keyboards were far too loud and the guitar was almost non-existent. The result was an incomprehensible mash of noise not helped by the complex music the band were playing. Guitarist Tom Maclean's distortion sound may have been muffled under a sea of sonic sludge, but as soon as the band switched to 'jazz' mode, his clean tone drowned out everything else (the phrase 'ill-prepared' springs to mind). His John Petrucci style of playing was impressive but annoying at the same time, because the chopping and changing within each song may have been clever (going from black metal riffing to clean avant-garde plucking and vice versa was technically brilliant), but left the music disjointed and something you certainly couldn't dance to.
On this performance To-Mera's shining light was bass player Lee Barrett. He has a great image and thunders his bass almost to oblivion, although I couldn't help feeling he'd be happier blasting out rhythms for a thrash band. To-Mera's weakest link is vocalist Julie Kiss. Her high pitched wails give the music a gothic metal touch, but even from the first song she was horrendously out of tune. Her connection with the crowd was almost non-existent and she looked disinterested throughout the set. Without any witty banter, and the constant checking of the set-list to see which song they were playing next, (which for such a short set was criminal), reminded me or a battle of the bands scenario.
For all their faults and my pickiness, To-Mera did click with a lot of the crowd receiving rapturous applause for songs such as their first video 'Blood'. Their complex ditties obviously appealed to the Dream Theater fans amongst the crowd, who were delighted when the band covered 'Under a Glass Moon' albeit badly. But the final words of the To-Mera set have to be from a guy meeting his friend who was coming out of the Darwin Suite after the To-Mera show, and they were;
"Alright mate, are you still being miserable?"
"Well, if you'd have gone in there, so would you be."