Album review: The Deadstation – Episode 01: Like Peering into the Deepest Ocean Abyss (EP)

DeadstationCoverLocation: USA

Genre: Progressive metal

Release date: 3 April 2014

Label: Self-released

Recommended to: Fans of many prog metal and crossover prog rock bands including those named in this review

The Deadstation spells its name in upper-case letters. I don’t. My keyboard is allergic to Caps Lock. The sound card, the headphones and my ears, however, are anything but allergic to The Deadstation. I experienced two immediate reactions after playing their one and only release. The first was: “Where are they hiding the rest of their albums?” The second: “Why aren’t there more?”

A digital version of the EP was released two years ago. The physical recording, which includes an additional song, runs to 34 minutes of grand music.

It’s not easy to categorise The Deadstation in this era of blurred genres. They do comfortably wear the general label of progressive metal. More specifically, the closest match that comes to mind is prog djent – think TesseracT with more powerful vocals (but without the string-palming). TesseracT is probably my favourite djent band, so you can take it as read that I greatly enjoyed Episode 1: Very Long Album Name.

Three pleasant American chaps from Boston, Massachusetts, make up the band. Shjon Thomas, who revels in dialogue with fans, does guitars, bass and vocals. Ryan Mattheu is a solo guitar wizard. The lead singer is Greg Murphy, who is also the drummer. This dual role of drummer-vocalist is something of a rarity… the singer is the back man. The band doesn’t single out a front man.

Phil Collins of Genesis has managed the same type of dual role competently. The principle differences between Murphy and Collins, apart from the fact that one plays metal and the other is stuck in schmaltz, are: (a) Murphy is a much better and more creative drummer; (b) Murphy has a far superior voice, range and execution; (c) Murphy delivers the percussion for great compositions, not crappy choons.

DeadstationBandThe band says it draws its inspiration from Alice In Chains, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Porcupine Tree and Radiohead. One can feel those influences in Episode 01, but I cunningly (and handsomely too) discerned other parallels that should make this band and album accessible to a wide range of prog metal and crossover prog rock enthusiasts. On the metal side they are likely to do well among fans of – let’s think of some suitably big names – DT, Symphony X, Queensrÿche, Amaran’s Plight and Shadow Gallery. They should also be well-received by fans of harder, heavier prog bands including Porky Tree, Rishloo, Blind Ego, Arena, Galahad and Wobbler.

The EP packs a lot into a haf-hour-plus, most of it excellent. The compositions, instrumentation and performances would be worthy of a much more seasoned outfit with a long discography to its credit. Themed albums are a hallmark of established bands and Ayreon-type projects. It’s quite ballsy to kick off with one. The theme here is deep introspection, a psychologically stressed perception of life, presented in the form of a journal. The band calls it “dystopian progressive metal”. It works.

The music features many passages in which chunka-chunka riffs meld into a broader “wall of sound” of the type that the best post rock and post metal bands do so well (Russian Circles, for example). The compositions are punctuated by superb guitar work, both electric and steel acoustic. They are the platform from which the soaring, clean tenor vocals are launched. Everything is glued together tightly by the ebb and flow of the keyboards. Hey, there’s real piano in there too! This band knows that acoustic extends beyond fret boards.

If I were to offer one suggestion to The Deadstation, which of course I’m about to do right now, it would be this – next time, do less emotional whispering, effective though it may be. That tenor is too good not to use more of it.

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About ChristopherMammal

I've made it to Mammal. I still hope to be classified as Human one day. Meanwhile I have evolved enough to recognise different types of music as well as the shrieks of certain vervet monkeys who are known for their scurrilous behaviour in the proximity of unguarded bananas.

Posted on April 16, 2014, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Sounds good Mr Mammal, can’t fault your ears, but what’s with the Collins-bashing, eh? Quite enough of that from the ‘I’m-too-cool-brigade’, without die-hard proggers getting in on the act 😉

    Wash yer lugholes out with these – you know it makes sense…

    🙂

    p.s. on a Genesis-related note – did you hear Simon Collins’ Dimensionaut album last year? Not outstanding by any means, but not half-bad, either, if you’re partial to the nu-prog school of bands such as Frost*, Kino, Riverside, DeeExpus etc…

  2. ChristopherMammal

    Dear Guls Man, thanks for the humorous chiding. It won’t work, of course, because my skin is three miles thick and toughened by the African sun.

    Genesis broke when Peter Gabriel left. “…and Then There Were Three” tried desperately hard to be Genesis. “Duke” marked the start of the slide into adult contemporary rock and Genesis became REO Speedwagon. After that, Collins Senior drifted farther and farther away into dance music.

    I was impressed enough by Dimensionaut that I bought the album last year. May I timorously (ha!) suggest that Little Collins’s band, for all its Floyd echoes, isn’t quite as far away from the Solar System as other midern space rock bands like Astra, Hidria Spacefolk or Quantum Fantay. For example:

  3. Hmm – sounds kinda like Ozric Tentacles.

  4. Fucking awesome. You name dropped a ton of bands I love in your review that I just had to listen. I agree though, less whispering and more POWER for next time. Cant wait for more. You are the man btw! Your love of all this progressive stuff gets me every time. Keeps me coming back to this blog again and again. Just wish I could get around to it more often. Loved your Warhorse recommendation as well!

  5. ChristopherMammal

    Thank you for the flattering words about me, Doctor Iz — but more importantly, it makes all of us at Metal State feel warm inside when readers like you give a good listen to a good new band. Almost every band apart from the well-known giants is made up of guts, grit, perseverance and unswaying love of music. Getting any recognition is not just an uphill battle for them. It’s like trying to fall up a cliff.

  1. Pingback: Mammal’s FREE!!! song pick: The Deadstation – Limitless, Or So It Seems | A Metal State of Mind

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