Fifty years on, progressive rock is still proving itself to be one of the most influential sub-genres making an impact on modern music. Originating in the UK in the sixties, prog rock set aside danceability in favor of experimental composition and creative lyrical content, an orientation that would be at the heart of bands ranging from Pink Floyd to The Mars Volta. And as of 2013, one Dublin band is staking their claim as Ireland’s next breakout progressive rock outfit.
They call themselves The Dystopian Project, and they are as diverse in their stylistic influences as prog rock itself. Incorporating heavier components from the progressive metal side of the aisle, piano, string, and acoustic tracks, multiple vocalists, celtic folk elements, and a bassist on lead vocals, the DP are born from one of the most complex recipes found in a simpler-is-sweeter age. And they relish every ounce of individuality their six members can bring to the mix: “Drawing from a wide and eclectic range of musical influence’s and backgrounds, The Dystopian Project create music to entertain and evoke emotion with energy driven riffs, surrounded by beautiful and haunting soundscapes infused with complex intertwining vocal harmonies.”
Although their new release, Death Leaves an Echo, contains only five songs, its tracks pack that same diversity in spades. Everything variable, from run times (ranging from 3:59 to 9:05) to the intensity of heavy guitar elements, are played with, creating a sampler of disparate pieces connected by personality and themes.
The EP’s name suggests off the bat that the struggle against negativity in the wake of trauma is going to play a major thematic role throughout, and songs such as “Broken Reality,” “Delirium,” and “Winter’s Hall” do an excellent job of keeping these ideas at the front of the listener’s mind. At times, even a band like Paramore might be evoked through a blend of edgy rock and melodic melancholy. Perhaps more than anything, they are reminiscent of Evanescence, powerfully so in “Delirium” and some of the softer moments. Yet their sound remains quintessentially their own, owning to the very personal background and influences they bring to the table as a modern continuation of the multi-decade story of the progressive rock spectrum.