By MASON McCLAY – CENTO WRITER
Eyes closed, absorbing the rapid stream of electric guitar chords alongside a pounding drum rhythm and the resounding voice of junior Nicholas Teale, I begin to envision the landscape in which Teale’s concept album — a blend of heavy metal and classical — is being created.
An intimidating stretch of desert comes to mind, kind of like where Heisenberg buried his cash. Except instead of a bearded chemist standing confidently with a brow expressing corrupted intelligence and obvious conceit, I see the singer’s hair flat against his shoulder in the breezeless, intensely bright setting.
“They think I am enlightened, but I am just a fool!” he cried, in a verse painting humanity’s circumstance of “a world where God has died, and man’s pride has dissolved his spirituality.”
This is a portrait of Teale’s work right now: utter dedication and love for music. Teale was raised in a home where musical ingenuity was highly encouraged, influencing him to pursue a Music and International Studies double-major.
“My birth mother and aunt actually played at some local venues in Louisville, which helped steer me toward music,” Teale said. “I’m also an International Studies major because I love world cultures.”
Teale has been creatively involved in songwriting since his sophomore year of high school and has been working out the ideas of his concept album for the past four years.
Inspired by a mutual love for rock, metal, and classical music, Teale’s passion for these genres manifested into the extremely creative endeavor of mixing the facets of each musical style.
“I’ve always really liked progressive rock. The use of complex time signatures and melodic motifs outside of traditional tonality has always appealed to me. I also love the way it mixes genres,” he said.
“I love classical music, but it often frustrates me how there’s always a set technique to everything and a rigid method of execution. Breaking down those barriers allows for a lot of creativity. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do with the concept album.”
Although Teale’s innovative musical style does a seamless job of integrating elements of both classical and progressive rock music, it is the concept itself — and the helpless position in which he places the audience — that is particularly captivating.
Teale boldly presents a scenario in which there is a definite common source of goodness in the world, and humanity believes that after this source has died, life will be better-off. But by the human race believing that it has been freed from ignorance, Teale’s plot illustrates how humanity admits that it is entirely lost.
Through two different movements, the “Destruction Sonata,” performed in the Fall 2013 Musicians’ Showcase, and “Moths to a Flame,” performed in the Spring 2014 Musicians’ Showcase, he narrates the progression of all goodness which evaporates eternally, to the suffering of humanity that quickly follows.
The emotional despair inherent in this concept is expressed very clearly through the album’s driving tempo and compelling rhythm. Yet Teale’s use of profound lyrics carried by his softly stirring voice gives an almost contradictory sense of hope, or at least acceptance, to humanity’s helplessness.
What he is trying to relate to his audience in a large way is the idea of “humanity’s pride being a large source of suffering.”
That intention is definitely executed well through the narrative of his album, as humanity’s lack of humility swiftly produces a dystopian world.
Teale’s ingenuity seems to come from an unworldly realm, and he inspires the more earth-bound minds in unexpected ways.
Teale has the desire to perform his album collaboratively, as it has been produced with several instruments and vocals. Such a performance would be an amazing experience.
There is also a great hope that Teale will continue to pursue his musical endeavors. His music could potentially serve as a resource that will support a future career in international studies. Teale hopes to produce more albums in order to keep his growing audience stimulated and appreciative of the novel mixtures of musical genres as well as the imaginative messages that music can offer.