Earthside describe themselves a cinematic rock collective form New England, USA. But this their debut album; has elements of prog, cinematic movies scapes and instrumentals breaking out in to pure metal are so much more than that self-titled tag. The band themselves are a collective of sound engineers, music graduates, string arrangers, music directors and journalists. So guys more used to be behind the scenes than in front of it.
With no obvious vocalist in the band you are instantly thinking instrumental album; which I am not against, in fact there are some bands that can pull this off well and I love what they do but for every good instrumental album there seems to be a handful of bad ones. Earthside themselves seem to know this so they have drafted in several guest vocalists throughout the album and also use the skills of the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra which enables them to keep the theme throughout but also push themselves into other boundaries which a conventional instrumental album cannot.
So what is it I want from an album like this? I am looking for an album, that can two things at once which is why it is so tricky to pull off. One the one hand I am looking for dynamics, tensions, sweeping arrangements that is going to completely draw me into the songs yet on the other hand I am looking for an ambience and feel which means that I can also play the album in evening and it can set the tone for whatever I am doing. Demanding? I don’t think so Godspeed you Black emperor have made a career out of this and luckily form me A Dream In Static also captures a lot of these elements.
Opening track “The Closest I’ve Come” is a great album opener and the first of the instrumentals on the album. After repeated listening I would probably say that this was my favourite, this is the four guys of Earthside doing what they do best making pensive, edgy, melodramatic atmospheric rock. It has all the elements I was hoping for and as a standalone song I love.
“Mob Mentality” the second offering on the album is also the first track to introduce both a guest vocalist and the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra and music wise it’s pretty much what you would expect from a band that can boast an orchestral arranger amongst their midst. And it is in the ebb and flow of the track that you can hear them best balancing moments of pure drama and good old fashioned metal belted out by Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust.
It is the guest vocals on the title track “A Dream In Static” that will leave you amazed however and they work on every level and will definitely leave you impressed. When Mosh (Editor of Moshville Times) first heard this track he was blown away and could not stop raving about it and it easy to see why. The vocals are provided by Daniel Tomkins (TesseracT, ex-Skyharbour) and they soar and swoop, reaching highs that you are not even sure could be reached and they fit the music perfectly.
The album has a great mix of instrumentals such as “Skyline”; I love the dynamics of the band when it is just them at their basics; and tracks with guest vocalists. “Crater” introduces Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) to the album with vocals which are a little more understated than we have heard previously rising to a low growl by the end of the song . This track is a little more prog metal than the rest of the album and again has a great almost majestic vibe.
It is also worth mentioning the final track “Contemplation of the Beautiful” which provides a haunting end to the album with an intro which is almost “day of the dead” in its sound and again has a lot of introspective pieces inter-chopped with metal riffs and dynamic vocals.
The only question left to answer is did Earthside pull it off with their debut and successfully tread that line between the intricate song and background vibe? The fact I’m still listening to it now whilst I write this, keep catching new pieces in the music I hadn’t heard before probably answers that.
A Dream In Static is released on October 23rd.
Header Photo Credit: Ian Christmann – Catalyst Photography