Dead Letter Circus - Aesthesis Album Review

Big-scale Aussie proggers reach for the stars.

Dead Letter Circus Aesthesis album artwork

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Over the past decade Dead Letter Circus have been one of the numerous bands proving that the Australian progressive scene is alive and well.

They’re A-listers on that circuit now, and for their latest album they’ve changed creative tack, turning their process on its head and writing the lyrics first before composing the music. It was a smart move. Co-produced by Chris Lord-Alge (Muse, U2, Green Day) Aesthesis is the sound of a bigger band.

Melodies, always their strong suit, gleam through with searing conviction. These are complemented but not overwhelmed by instrumental parts which, in turn, seem to have acquired extra breathing space. Sonically it’s more layered, but with the necessary air around the notes to sustain your anticipation, from the opening acoustic zing of In Plain Sight, which crashes wonderfully into a powerful, emotive chorus.

With the soaring, stadium-filling single While You Wait they turn essentially introverted, modern prog qualities into big stage tunes. If Katatonia and Anathema teamed up with Muse, the result would sound something like this. Contemporary king-sized rock with brains.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.