Album Reviews

Earthside – A Dream In Static

Sometimes a band appears seemingly out of nowhere to take you completely off guard. It’s especially surprising when the band in question is relatively close to your own geographical location. Earthside is a progressive/experimental band from New Haven, Connecticut. The group recorded their debut album A Dream In Static at Ghost Ward and Fascination Street Studios outside of Stockholm, Sweden with renowned producers David Castillo (Katatonia/Opeth/Novembre) and Jens Bogren (Opeth/Soilwork/Symphony X/Devin Townsend). The recording of A Dream In Static spanned 2 1/2 years, recorded in 3 countries, and featuring guest vocalists Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Daniel Tompkins (Tesseract), Björn Strid (Soilwork), and Eric Zirlinger (Face The King) and features special instrumental appearances by The Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra and Max ZT (hammered dulcimer).

The album begins with the progressive metal instrumental The Closest I’ve Come, featuring the musical might of band members Jamie van Dyck – Guitars, Frank Sacramone – Keyboards, Ben Shanbrom – Drums, and Ryan Griffin – Bass. The song has chops, tranquil passages, power, beauty, and aggression to create an impressive display of sonic bombast and cinematic soundscape.

Mob Mentality features the vocal talents of Lajon Witherspoon of U.S. modern metallers Sevendust. This was a very unique choice of vocalists that one does not associate at all with the world of progressive metal, however, Witherspoon has long been a respected vocalist with an emotive and powerful voice, and the collaboration between Earthside and Witherspoon and the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra works incredibly well within the scope of the song to create a symphonic cinematic triumph.

The title track features another guest vocalist, Daniel Tompkins of TesseracT, and not surprisingly has a more melodic, dreamy and djent-like quality. Tompkins vocals are emotion-laden with soaring high notes and strong dramatic melody lines that compliment the track’s modern prog elements.

The band creates another instrumental piece with the cinematic and movie soundtrack worthy Entering The Light which features Max ZT on hammered dulcimer and the talents of the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra once again.

Skyline is another instrumental track with a majestic proggy opening and a piano melody serves as the songs hook. The rhythm section of Shanbrom and Griffin keep the songs groove tight and in the pocket.

Another special guest vocalist is the highlight of the next track, Crater. Soilwork’s Björn Strid is well known for his diverse vocal ability from using harsh growls to melodic clean vocals, and both are on fine display here. Strid starts off with a his powerful and melodic vocals which grow in intensity as the song progresses as the song reaches it’s crescendo and Strid’s unleashes his full vocal fury with soaring yet aggressive high notes.

The Ungrounding is another instrumental synth-laden track that has elements of doom metal, Meshuggah-esque riffs, and a heavy bottom end that will appeal to fans of the heavier side of the prog metal spectrum.

The albums closing track is also the albums longest, clocking in at over 11 minutes, and features a relatively unknown vocalist compared to the other powerhouse guests. Eric Zirlinger of Face the King provides a passionate performance filled with harsh screams and emotional melodies. The song is titled Contemplation of the Beautiful, which is appropriate, as the song features quiet, ambient, and beautiful moments and then the music explodes with an intense and furious blast of aggression to bring the album to a close.

Normally, I am not a huge fan of instrumental albums, so the songs with vocals are naturally the ones I gravitated towards, however, the instrumental tracks are so well written and compelling I found myself enjoying them quite a bit as well. Earthside has just been added to the We Sold Our Souls To Metal U.S. tour featuring Soilwork, Soulfly, and Shattered Sun, so this is a huge opportunity to bring their unique brand of cinematic prog to the metal masses.

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