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A Dream in Static
Release Date: October 23, 2105
Earthside is a New England based collective that makes what they refer to as “Cinematic Rock.” That’s a pretty accurate description really, as the band takes progressive rock a step further and really incorporate the more traditional elements of cinema orchestration. If you are looking for a frame of reference, musically this leans much more towards the Genesis and Yes school of thought overall while also utilizing the heavier guitars found in most modern Prog Rock and Metal.
A Dream in Static opens with clear intentions. “The Closest I’ve Come” is a grandiose affair that boasts all the sensibilities of the early Prog Rock giants, the heavy guitars of modern Prog Rock and Metal, Jazz interludes, and the cool effects made possible by modern technology. It’s wide-reaching and often breathtaking….just like a memorable cinema score.
Of course, I will probably always gravitate more towards the moments with vocalists. The first single, “Mob Mentality” is a great tune that plays out like the soundtrack to a suspenseful Sci-Fi thriller and features Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon and the Moscow Studio Symphony (whom also appear on “Entering the Light”) Orchestra. It sort of reminds me of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” mashed together with The Pineapple Thief. Witherspoon delivers a career widening performance here as well, proving that he has a lot more to offer vocally than what Sevendust releases.
“Crater” is a really cool, technical piece with a killer, Yes fan-pleasing bassline, albeit it a bit more straightforward than most of the album’s material. Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid provides the vocals and he just glides over top of the melancholic guitars. It’s as if he tapped into his inner Dave Gahan, helping to elevate the song from interesting to accessible. It’s coupled with another one of the album’s best moments, “The Ungrounding,” which showcases the band’s metallic side hand-in –hand with its experimental take on what Prog Rock is capable of as opposed to trading off the sides like many of the songs do.
Overall, I really enjoy A Dream in Static. I’m not a huge fan of modern Prog Rock. Hell, I don’t even like a lot of what’s out there now. This one is different though. Earthside are all about the mood and the feeling, and seemingly less about egomaniacal displays of technical wankery. If you are a fan of Genesis, Yes, The Pineapple Thief, King Crimson, Nightwish or Epica’s more recent work, or Redemption then you should not miss out on this one.
Reviewed by Mark Fisher