Melbourne band Taramis was one of the first local groups to play a brand of `progressive' heavy metal in the style of overseas acts like Iron Maiden, Rush, Queensryche, Manowar, Mercyful Fate and Fate's Warning. Another influence, though less apparent, was Yes. Taramis infused its esoteric music with an epic, mystical feel. Man-mountain frontman Joel Southby also possessed a booming rock voice which added an edge to the band's billowing, blustering song arrangements.
Taramis began life in 1983 as an Iron Maiden/Manowar covers band called Prowler (a name derived from the opening track on the debut Iron Maiden album). The line-up comprised Southby, Craig Robertson, Danny Komorr, Mick Lights (guitar) and Joe Cordina (drums). Andrew Rigo replaced Lights on guitar; Rigo's stay was brief. In 1985, Dave Browne replaced Cordina on drums. As the band began to add original material, the name change to Taramis (derived from the film Conan the Destroyer) came about. The band's contemporaries on the Melbourne heavy metal scene included the likes of S.A.S., Fair Warning, New Religion, Blackjack, Ion Drive, Virgin Soldiers, Taipan, Nothing Sacred and Tyrus. Taramis recorded its debut album, Queen of Thieves, in late 1986. By the time the album appeared in August 1987, Evan Harris had replaced Komorr on bass. The band toured interstate and built-up a strong following. The band scored a licensing deal with US label Metal Blade for the release of Queen of Thieves in North America. The album came out there in mid-1988 with new cover artwork.
In early 1990, George Larin replaced Robertson on guitar. Larin's experience extended to stints with Melbourne bands New Religion and Nothing Sacred, as well as bands in the UK and Germany (one of which, Backwater, was an early contemporary of Kreator and Destruction). Larin immediately lent his more inventive and forceful playing style to the band's sound. The second Taramis album, Stretch of the Imagination finally appeared in April 1992. The album was licensed to the Rising Sun label for distribution in Europe and the USA. Taramis supported Brazilian thrash/hardcore band Sepultura at its Melbourne concert in July 1992. With overseas interest still bubbling underneath, Taramis set its sights on Europe but eventually slipped from view.