by Justin Gaines
– News Editor / Senior Columnist –
The last couple of years have seen the arrival of some extraordinarily good unsigned (or indie label) bands playing progressive metal. Tears, Fallen Martyr, Hephystus and The Reticent have all impressed as much (if not more than) any “major” band, and now you can add Boston-based band The Deadstation to that list. The band made their debut last year with an EP titled Episode 01: Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss, and after hearing it you get the idea they won’t be unsigned for very long.
The EP is a conceptual album, where every song is supposed to represent a scene from the “episode” (the EP) on a fictional TV station called The Deadstation. This will probably take a few spins to make any sense, but given how amazing the musicianship and vocals are, you’ll be hitting repeat on this EP anyway! The Deadstation’s sound is kind of hard to pin down other than the general progressive metal tag, and that can mean just about anything these days. Musically, there’s the obvious Dream Theater and Rush influence, but The Deadstation brings to mind Redemption more than those two, with the atmospheric elements of Porcupine Tree and Coheed and Cambria’s sense of storytelling. However you slice it, it’s pretty damned impressive. The guitar work is intricate, the melodies are sublime and the rhythms are heavy enough to keep this EP solidly in metal territory throughout. The incredibly complex drumming is a particular highlight, as are the vocals, which happen to be handled by the same guy. Greg Murphy sounds like a dead ringer for Circus Maximus frontman Michael Eriksen, bringing a great range and some real power to the album. Oh, and the EP is mastered by Jens Bogran (Opeth, Symphony X, Devin Townsend), who really has become the best in the business for this kind of atmospheric progressive metal.
There are only seven songs on Episode 01, and the opening and closing tracks are mostly instrumental (and very Porcupine Tree sounding) atmospheric tracks that set the mood. “Subsistence Defined” is a stand-alone song that really gives you a perfect picture of The Deadstations overall sound, and the EP’s remaining four songs are a connected “suite” of tracks under the Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss theme. They all hold up just fine individually, but hearing them all together you really get the larger cohesive feel of the songs.
Episode 01: Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss may be brief (the EP clocks in at just under 27 minutes total), but it’s more than enough to satisfy (if not amaze) the most jaded fan of progressive metal. Whether you prefer atmospheric bands like Porcupine Tree and Riverside, more traditional bands like Dream Theater and Redemption or the more aggressive modern bands like Between the Buried and Me and Leprous, chances are you’re going to love this one. The Deadstation really is one of the best progressive metal bands you’ve never heard.
Intrigued yet? Well, it gets better. The EP is available for download – at no charge – from the band’s site listed below. That’s right – free progressive metal that’s as good as anything out there. What do you have to lose?
Genre: Progressive Metal
Shjon Thomas (g) (b) (v)
Ryan Mattheu (g)
Greg Murphy (v) (d)
Nathaniel Rendon (guest) (k)
1. Hundred Foot Drop
2. Subsistence Defined
3. Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss: Drugs For Pain Inside
4. Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss: August 4th – 3:21 AM
5. Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss: Anything But This, Anywhere But Here
6. Like Peering Into the Deepest Ocean Abyss: I Cannot Explain Myself Anymore
7. Slowly, But Surely, I’m Drowning
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.25/10