Earthside – Let The Truth Speak (2023)

Earthside - Let The Truth Speak (2023)
Artist: Earthside
Album: Let The Truth Speak
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Mascot Label Group/Music Theories Recordings
Year Of Release: 2023
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

Tracklist:
1. But What If We’re Wrong? (4:30)
2. We Who Lament (8:44)
3. Tyranny (8:39)
4. Pattern of Rebirth (4:40)
5. Watching the Earth Sink (11:46)
6. The Lesser Evil (10:59)
7. Denial’s Aria (5:26)
8. Vespers (2:41)
9. Let the Truth Speak (10:47)
10. All We Knew and Ever Loved (9:19)

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Personnel:
– Jamie van Dyck / guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
– Frank Sacramone / keyboards, backing vocals
– Ryan Griffin / bass
– Ben Shanbrom / drum, backing vocals

With:
– Sandbox / percussion (1)
– Keturah / vocals (2,7)
– Pritam Adhikary / lead vocals (3)
– AJ Channer / lead vocals (4)
– Larry Braggs / lead vocals (6)
– Sam Gendel / tenor saxophone (6)
– VikKe / vocals (7,8)
– Duo Scorpio / harp (7)
– Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh / vocals (8,9)
– Daniel Tompkins / lead vocals (9)
– Baard Kolstad / drums (10)

The bond you can form with a band is nigh unto sacred sometimes. I’ve been following Earthside since before they possessed that name, since they were just high schoolers emerging from their proverbial cocoons. And, oh, how proud I feel when I see the heights to which they can fly! Their new album, Let The Truth Speak, is an evocative witness to their collective mastery of both composition and emotion. It releases on November 17th.

Earthside has kept us waiting for their sophomore album for eight long years now, but believe me when I say that it is worth every second. Their 2015 debut A Dream in Static is a brilliant celebration of art and music theory, of composing with various themes and dynamics in play. This album, however, is different, and on a completely different level. The band lineup consists of Jamie Van Dyck on guitars, backing vocals, programming, and additional keys; Ben Shanbrom on drums and backing vocals; Frank Sacramone on keys, synth, programming, percussion, and additional guitars; and Ryan Griffin on bass on backing vocals. They bring with them a small army of vocalists and musicians that I’ll mention in time.

This is the same band, but a different side, an alternative perspective, from their debut. While that album was cinematic and progressive and technical, Let The Truth Speak is a haunting, atmospheric, and illustrious tapestry that is united by theme, by cinema, by visions, and by emotion. It is more singular in its thematic outreach, yet its musical expression is more diverse than the debut, and it represents the band accepting themselves for who they are on a deep level.

This is a progressive metal album, yes, but it is so much more. It is towering, almost keeping me on my literal tiptoes with its highwire melodies. It is mixed impeccably well, and so you will hear every riff, every orchestration, every groove, and every sweeping motion in crystal clarity. This album is perfectly comfortable in the warm ambience, but just as comfortable with a crushing riff, a soaring piece of cinema, or a textured abstraction. It is a voyage through a deluge of sensations, a sepulcher of light, a dream of inner places.

I will readily admit that this album makes me cry from start to finish. There are two reasons for this. First, the immensity of what these artists, these friends, have created is simultaneously a massive weight on my chest, and a freeing spirit for my mind. It makes me so happy and uplifted to hear what they have become.

Second, the themes of the album are perhaps quite potent for me. If you have read the book I published earlier this year, The Tumult of My Heart, you will know that the last 5-10 years of my life have been a search for something more, something truer. And here this album comes along to validate that sense in me, the feeling that the truth should speak for itself. There are moments on this album that feel like I could have written them. The sincerity of the lyrics speaks to my heart; the encouragement to abandon fear and to stand in confidence hits me directly in the chest. And the music is tailored specifically to enhance and develop those themes into something transcendent, transformative, and tantamount.

And that is exactly what Let The Truth Speak feels like: a tumult. It has ten tracks, and they are all glorious. The opener “But What If We’re Wrong” features Sandbox Percussion, and it is almost shy or teasing in how it plays with us, but before long a wave of riffs and orchestrations sweep in to see us off on our journey. “We Who Lament” follows, featuring singer Keturah, and the towering might of the emotions on this piece never fails to grab me by the throat; I love the riveting drumming, the explosive vocals, and the ethereal emotions. Next comes “Tyranny” with Pritam Adhikary of the band Aarlon, and this song has more grit and more edge; still we get the expansive riffs and the feelings of vastness and openness, and the strings play a big role.

Two of my favorites come next. First is “Pattern of Rebirth” with A.J. Channer of Fire from the Gods on vocals, and it is one of my favorite songs of the year. This piece revels in the band’s nu-metal influences, and it grooves and riffs with utter majesty; however, the lyrics?written by A.J.?really speak to me and I find myself singing this one constantly. An instrumental piece “Watch The Earth Sink” comes next, and I’m sitting here right now ruminating over how amazing it is. This track is rather reserved at first, even ambient, as the band deftly and lightly plays their instruments. But soon a massive wall of riffs blows into the scene, and then a stuttering guitar lick and sinister orchestration blasts us off to another planet. Jamie kills it on a huge solo, and the song just keeps mustering more and more courage as it plays for twelve minutes total. What a ride!

And the band is just getting started. “The Lesser Evil” with Larry Braggs and Sam Gendel is one of the craziest songs I’ve heard this year; it is heavy and theatrical and even a little maniacal at points, and this is all augmented by a brass section that slices through the metal in arresting fashion. It is unique and amazing. “Denial’s Aria” with Keturah, VikKe, and Duo Scorpio follows, and could be called the ballad of the album. It is all about atmosphere and harmony, and I think it has one of the best choruses on the album, if you could call it that. I love its burning character. “Vespers” with Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh and VikKe is the next song, and this one is like an interlude that borrows the personality of the previous track, but takes it into a darker territory full of whispers and faraway cries. I love it.

The last two tracks are massive. The title track features Daniel Tompkins of TesseracT and Gennady Tkachenko- Papizh, and it is one of the more complicated pieces, vocally-speaking. The orchestrations are exciting and visionary and acrobatic here, and Daniel’s fantastic voice and gritty screams are such an evocative and beautiful way to end the vocal portion of the album. It is truly a exotic and layered piece.

The closer, “All We Knew and Ever Loved”, featuring Baard Kolstad of Leprous, released two years ago, and I hope you’ve heard it. This piece is a mountain of cinema and transformation. It elicits so many feelings and haunted visions of other places that are somehow also nostalgic and familiar, yet perhaps becoming alien to us? It is gorgeous, from the depths of its ambient portions to the heights of its organ-driven climaxes, and it is a work of wonder.

Earthside have bested their debut, not just by writing better songs, but by offering us a loving, confident hand. This album will lift you to the skies, and bury you in the dirt; it will force you to face those inner demons, but it will carry you away to better places. It is a work of skill and mastery, of many years of blood, sweat, and tears as the band honed and finetuned every second. This is surely the album that will leave its mark on 2023.
~ Review by Second Life Syndrome, progarchives

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