THE DEADSTATION- Episode 01: Peering into the Deepest Ocean Abyss
Wed, 11 Jul 2012 03:20:59 +0000
Music serves many purposes to us, it entertains, it comforts, and it heals. At some times we listen just to pass time, to revel in our day and celebrate life. At others, we are hurting, and need the comfort of a trusted friend who always says the right things at the right time. I for one also listen to explore parts of my inner being, to categorize my spirituality by acknowledging the existence of its component pieces, both good and bad. Some music reminds me of the beauty in life, the joy of those I love, and the peace of mind brought out by existing as part of a greater whole. Others I use to remind myself of darker, more disturbing parts of life, the ones which must exist for the bliss to be possible. The debut EP by the Boston based prog metal band THE DEADSTATION, Episode 01: Like Peering into the Deepest Ocean Abyss, serves exactly that purpose.
THE DEADSTATION’s conceptual base is unique on its own. They present their songs as episodes from a dystopian TV channel titled THE DEADSTATION, with each song being a scene from the episode. This concept is presented in stellar fashion within the four core songs of this piece. I first must say it is incredibly audacious for a band to debut in this fashion, to pull it off in such remarkable fashion is a credit to all involved, those principles being Shjon Thomas (bass, guitar, backing vocal), Ryan Matteu (guitar), Greg Murphy (lead vocal, drums) who form the core of THE DEADSTATION. Keyboards are provided by guest musician Nathaniel Rendon. Mastering was done by Jens Borgen, who has worked with such noted artist as Devin Townsend, James Labrie, Opeth, and Symphony X, a quartet of artists that would make any respectable prog metal fan stand up and salute.
The EP doesn’t waste much time in getting in gear, 1:25 to be exact, the length of the opening instrumental Hundred Foot Drop, a hypnotic segment which serves to “tune” the listener into the station. Hopefully, they are ready, because the second song, Subsistence Defined, explodes from note one, and anyone unprepared will be knocked onto their ass. The song settles into itself after its beastly intro, and we are introduced to what makes THE DEADSTATION so special. The instrumentation is incredible, flowing at times and punctuating at others, but balanced and smooth. There are no transitional breaks or stutters, it goes wonderfully from one segment to the next. The guitar work is harsh yet melodic, and the drumming is more than adequate to carry the frantic pace of the work, double bass serving not as a speed element, but as a nervous pacesetter, reminding the listener to pay attention. Vocals range from despondent to frantic to sheer panic, and are all very well sung.
The centerpiece of the album, the four scene Episode 01: Like Peering into the Deepest Ocean Abyss, takes over from there, and is one of the most incredibly crafted works of emotion I have had the pleasure to come across. As Thomas puts it, “Episode 01 is about putting everything you have on the line, and failing…it’s the kind of failure that progresses very slowly though, so that you’re aware of it as it’s taking place.” Ladies and gentlemen, he is not fucking around with this, this is a piece that speaks to the very heart of despair. The panic in the first scene, Drugs for the Pain Inside, is palpable. The music behind it serves to create the beginning of the frenzy, not quite a complete panic, but more of the buzzing of a hive of bees after a good shaking, it is on the surface, ready to explode. The pace changes dramatically in scene two, August 4th-3:21am, a spoken word piece with melodic yet somber musical backing. The narrator is realizing his place, how he is at an end, with no escape. The flow in structure from this scene to scene three, Anything but This, Anywhere but Here, is probably the most genius part of the album, the transition happening with the ominous lyrics, “I have been swallowed by society….” The music kicks into pace, and the lyrics turn to a painful, desperate wailing. As it continues, the spoken word intertwines with it, the two acting as the conscious mind and the subconscious. As they come closer, and as the panic reaches its pinnacle, both parts harmonize into, “I have to get the fuck out of here”. The journey is complete, the will is beaten, desperation is total and in control. It is a mechanism that works perfectly, and still gives me chills after many, many listenings. For those who, like me, have been to that dark end of desperation and despondence, they will realize that THE DEADSTATION has captured one of the most debilitating human emotions to perfection, an amazing achievement for any work of art.
If I seem overflowing with my praise, it’s simply because this work is one I relate to on a very base level. Any album that can touch the deepest parts of me like this one does deserve their due respects. From a music lover’s standpoint, this has all the requisite elements, powerful, emotional vocals, incredibly intricate arrangements, phenomenal musicianship, and a well thought out plan, this thing is done well, very well. Thomas says, “I feel this EP has a fearful vibe to it…as if it’s afraid of something.” That sense of fear is very well present, and I’m sure we have all felt it at one point or another in life. Capturing human emotion is the pinnacle of any artist, and THE DEADSTATION does it on their first release. Episode 02, I can’t wait to see what you bring.