Hey music lovers, the Lady seems to know the secret to getting me out of hiding, and the best one is by dropping a promo from my hometown, the San Francisco Bay Area. So for today’s review, we got the sophomore release from Utopian Trap, progressive metallers with a distinct thrash edge. Citing influences such as proggers like Dream Theater and Opeth, metal legends like Iron Maiden and Iced Earth, and with a hometown flavor of Bay Area thrash gods Metallica and Megadeth, Utopian Trap delivers a technical yet raw performance in The Human Price. Coming out of the initial project Fiction started by guitarists Chandra Garud and Vhinod Bhat, Utopian Trap released their debut album Fiction Fades into Reality. After a few years and lineup changes, the guitarists are joined on this second album by bassist Farhan Mohamed, drummer Rohil Taggarsi, and vocalist Eric Boles.
The album opens with the title and longest track, The Human Price. It’s a dynamic track closing in on ten minutes where they show all of their skill sets from the get go. They reach high very quickly and hang on to the grandeur as they slide into the heavy chords that serve as the backbone of their music. One guitar provides the chugging riffs and the other sears and soars through them. Drums are active and fierce, and the bass stays in the middle of it all. Boles vocals are solid, not overly dynamic as with other prog metal vocalist, but more akin to the harder sides of metal without being throaty, just really powerful. The track carries the nine plus minute length without seeming long, it’s structured very well.
Six more tracks follow of shorter length. Wired Ruins opens with some dark ambient tech noise creating a certain tension before leaping off into a ripper guitar riff. It’s a harrowing track, with Boles channeling a bit of an Ozzy tone to add to the overall disparity of the track. The Verge is an upbeat, kinetik instrumental, one that surely moved a fret or two on the band’s guitars. The Final Figure is a rich track, dense in emotion and futility. A quick musical interlude from Devil’s Promenade leads into Walls of Justice, heavy with a serious anthemic feel to it, backed with some seriously ripper chord work. The album draws out with Atephobic, a sexy, bluesy instrumental piece.
Though there are a few shortcomings, the overall end product is some quality work. It’s rather refreshing to get a taste of something progressive without sacrificing soul for technicality. Wankery is all good, but the music tends to get lost sometimes. Here though, Utopian Trap has their soul on their sleeves beginning to end.