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Earthside: A Dream In Static

Ambitious but hit-and-miss debut from New England quartet.

Earthside have compromised a little on their instrumental-centric approach, introducing the odd guest vocalist to colour in their sometimes uninviting soundscapes, and in doing so they’ve pulled out a few trump cards for this debut.

A sumptuous job from Opeth producers David Castillo and Jens Bogren makes for a solid foundation, and the contribution of the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra further expands their widescreen musical visions on Mob Mentality. They’re also pretty adventurous in their choice of arrangements (a hammered dulcimer, anyone?). Style-wise, there’s much to admire. Now and then, they also manage to deliver memorable tunes, as on the title track and the sweeping, dulcimer-lit vistas of Entering The Light. Yet they fall back too often on over-complicated metal riffs and bitty, complex rhythms, that don’t evoke much of a response past ‘Wow, look at the technique behind that’. The Closest I’ve Come is chock-full of choppy tempos, pummelling bass drums and guitar squiddles, and hooks flicker briefly then fizzle out on jazz-metal explorations such as Skyline and Crater. So ultimately we come out of the other end feeling shaken, if only intermittently stirred.