Earthside, rather than being a band, are a four-piece musical collective from New Haven, Connecticut. All four members are college-qualified musically, either in composition or in performing, similar to members of Dream Theatre – which means all of them are extremely talented and capable musicians. Their debut album, A Dream In Static, was released in 2015 but, as the band puts it in 2023 they now find themselves in a different world entirely, a world more honest and unhinged than they’d ever bargained for, thus their desire to “let the truth speak”.
The music offered up here cannot be easily categorised under any one heading, veering between prog rock/prog metal, with a hint of psych and even the occasional flash of classic rock. In short, it’s a diverse, almost eclectic mixture of sounds covering a lot of bases. ‘The Lesser Evil’ offers a slight nod to Van der Graaf Generator and is a good example of the eclectic mix. The album begins and ends instrumentally, but ‘What If We’re Wrong’ and ‘All We Knew And Ever Loved’ .. and in between are several pieces of varying length, complexity and intensity.
What Earthside offer is a complex modern take on contemporary prog. It’s occasionally catchy and melodic, packed with stop-start propulsive playing, and on pieces such as ‘Watching The Earth Sink’ .. the only track on the album without any special guests .. there’s a wall of sound Phil Spector might have been proud to lay claim to. ‘Vespers’ is almost a homage to the 1970s Tangerine Dream, with its soft floating synths and the occasional whispered vocals. Denial’s Aria is a quiet atmospheric piece with vocals sounding like they’re actually being sung rather than shouted, and is probably as near to having a traditional song structure as there is on the album.
Listening to this album will mean, however, having to leave your comfort zone as there’s little doubt this is a very challenging album. There’s some hard edged riffing alongside moments of delicacy and introspection, with little in the way of traditional song structures, meaning it’s not an easy listen. But if you’re prepared to make the effort, there could be something here for you.