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Dead End Space: Distortion Of Senses

Swedish prog metal trio get conceptual under new moniker.

The unit formerly known as the Johnny Engstrom Band have gone large on concept on their intense, quietly menacing debut as Dead End Space. Its sonic landscapes are wide-reaching and weird and the themes are wonderfully dark, spanning yarns of death, obsession, the afterlife.

Add the fact that recording took place across various parts of Sweden over nearly a year and you have the basis for a narrative, dream-like work. Chicago-born Engstrom has done stints with bluesers PG & The Hooligans, and this shows in the rocking hooks shrouded in progressive allure here.

The excellent title track opens with spooky samples and evolves into biting prog metal crunch. Phantom Death reveals Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree guitar before hitting atmospheric tones, while scale-spanning, pensive solos in the likes of Time Flies evoke John Petrucci, no less.

Persisting minor progressions and ambient elements add to the subtly gothic aura. The slow-burning intensity can drag at times, but ultimately Distortion Of Senses is a satisfying, high-quality record that doesn’t so much fuck with your mind as gently screw it into a cerebral ball of haunted heaviness.

Polly Glass

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.