Monday, October 29, 2012

The Deadstation - Episode 01: Like Peering Into The Deepest Ocean Abyss. (EP) (2012)

Influenced by some of the biggest names in grunge, prog, and metal, Boston based The Deadstation have a concept. Delivering their own unique take on progressive metal through a series of "episodes" on their dystopian television station, this three piece can be described by a myriad of words and phrases, but run of the mill isn't one of them. With keyboard passages that would make a Dream Theater fan drool, vocals that seem like they are right out of alt rock, and drumming that is bruising if nothing else, they have formed their an avant style all their own. In the first installment, "Episode 01: Like Peering Into The Deepest Ocean Abyss," they take on the frightening thought of being swallowed whole, and do it with a memorable narrative.

As your broadcast begins, lonely, but eerily played notes ring out on "Hundred Foot Drop." The electronic elements that poke in are perfectly executed, leading into a guitar lead that has a blues feel to each string. But as you move from one track to the next, the explosive power of "Subsistence Defined" is enough to knock you backwards. You now have a completed mix, chock full of wailing guitar riffs, electronics, powerful drumming and synthesizers. To call the vocals versatile does not do them justice, ranging from high register clean singing to pitch perfect crooning. Lead singer Greg Murphy, who is also the driving force behind the drum kit, is sure to peak your interest through his signature vocal styles aplenty. But don't think for a minute that there is some gimmick at work here; to the contrary, the musicianship is anything but, laying down measure after measure of pulsing percussion and screeching guitar riffs. They manage to walk the fine line between theatrical and true metal prowess here, and walk it without a stumble.

And yes, the opening moments of "Drugs For The Pain Inside" may very well leave your head slightly cocked, trying to figure out exactly what could happen next. But the answer is not what you might expect. What develops is a rare mix of smooth bass, synthesizers and drumming, a soothing blend that erupts without warning into a devastating djent massacre. Somewhere beneath it all, delicate piano keys rise to the top, and launch a bizarre progressive metal piece. What springs from here is hard to describe, but remains completely riveting. Murphy's voice is unique, especially in the world of metal; something in his tone and delivery brings to mind Jared Leto of 30 Seconds To Mars, for better or worse. But the way he carries the load is what makes it all the more impressive, hitting the highs when needed, but never stretching outside his comfort zone.  Even the audio diary that makes up "August 4th - 3:21 AM" is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. What evolves from those early moments is a mix of Yes style keyboards and Dream Theater drum construction, with a single spoken voice, recounting being swallowed by the abyss. The storytelling is excellent, without ever singing one note.

Tying it all together, that same instrumental backing flows directly into "Anything But This, Anywhere But Here," where Murphy unleashes his singing voice again, over a battery of drums and synthesizers. In a combination of whispered text and clean vocals, he continues the storyline that the episode has laid out thus far. Then, once again, you are thrown for a loop. As "I Cannot Explain Myself Anymore" comes into view, softly played acoustic guitars are all you here, joined soon after by the lightest of bells. You are treated to something so soothing, a foundation as fragile as you could imagine. Yet, somehow, a keyboard and guitar led instrumental rises from these meager beginnings, and becomes something entirely new. That is, until the beat drops, and an aggressive guitar chugging kicks things into high gear. But it is from silence that "Slowly, But Surely, I'm Drowning" begins, and where it ends. The middle is a solemn affair, with softly played guitars and even softer spoken words.

There aren't a whole lot of words in the metal lexicon that can be used to describe what it is The Deadstation does. What subgenre could you assign to a band that seems to float between so many? Regardless, what you have here is an album that deserves to be heard. For those who think the creativity and thought has left the music business, this might be the shining star you have been waiting for. This effort is far from flawless, but with more episodes on the horizon, it would be a safe bet to think these three like minded individuals will return with yet another story, and even more catchy instrumentals. And just like the pilot of you favorite TV show, "Episode 01: Like Peering Into The Deepest Ocean Abyss" is enough to get you on board for the whole season.


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