Earthside - Let The Truth Speak review
|Album:||Let The Truth Speak|
|Release date:||November 2023|
01. But What If We're Wrong [feat. Sandbox Percussion]
02. We Who Lament [feat. Keturah]
03. Tyranny [feat. Pritam Adhikary]
04. Pattern Of Rebirth [feat. AJ Channer]
05. Watching The Earth Sink
06. The Lesser Evil [feat. Larry Braggs & Sam Gendel]
07. Denial's Aria [feat. Keturah, VikKe & Duo Scorpio]
08. Vespers [feat. Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh & VikKe]
09. Let The Truth Speak [feat. Daniel Tompkins & Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh]
10. All We Ever Knew And Loved [feat. Baard Kolstad]
There’s a number of notorious albums out there with lengthy production times that weren’t reflected in the finished product (think Chinese Democracy or Time). Let The Truth Speak is one of those rare records that actually sounds like the band continually worked on throughout its incubation period, with a quite exceptional outcome.
Aside from perhaps Native Construct’s Quiet World, I struggle to think of a prog-metal debut that received as much adulation as Earthside’s A Dream In Static in the post-djent 2010s (side note, wishing guitarist Jamie Van Dyck all the best in his recovery from cancer). When Native Construct fell apart before releasing a second album and meaningful updates on new music from Earthside were sparse, there was reason to fear that the latter band might never follow up their own debut either. However, the “All We Knew And Ever Loved” single in 2021 has ultimately led to a new full album, and when listening to Let The Truth Speak, you can hear what they’ve been spending their time on in the interim.
I don’t normally like to focus too much on the technical side of an album, but I think this record warrants it. At 77 minutes, this is a gargantuan collection of music that has been assembled with obvious love and attention to detail; the numerous long, complex songs on this release have been crafted with finesse, recorded with pristine production quality, and featuree a very impressive and varied ensemble of guest vocalists and other musicians. Like the debut, there are semi-frequent symphonic contributions on this album, and the adeptness displayed with the symphonic arrangements is mostly unparalleled. With top-notch ambient soundscaping and occasional ventures outside of metal capping everything off, this incredibly ambitious album is, from a production standpoint, something of a marvel.
Still, this is all well and good, but it needs to be accompanied by music that’s actually enjoyable; on that front, I have seen comments around the internet towards both A Dream In Static and Let The Truth Speak effectively saying that the surface sheen is lovely, but the core of the album is lacking. I can appreciate such views, and have occasionally had similar inclinations towards aspects of the debut, but as far as Let The Truth Speak is concerned, I think it absolutely lives up to the potential that the production provides it with. In brief, A Dream In Static could be described as a progressive metal album with post-rock, ambient and symphonic elements, and I think this new album builds upon all that while further expanding Earthside’s horizons. Probably the only thing lacking is a more straightforward and accessibly catchy song such as “Crater” or “A Dream In Static”, but the band make up for this in other ways.
With all the various guest vocalists in the centre of the album, it’s intriguing that the record opens and closes with percussive guests. Opening track “But What If We’re Wrong” is quite enchanting; guest quartet Sandbox Percussion contribute tranquil, dainty glockenspiel and other instrumental layers that add an otherworldliness to the gradually escalating and intensifying, yet also soaring, nature of this composition. At the other end of the album, Leprous drummer Baard Kolstad lights up “All We Knew And Ever Loved”, a track that opens and closes with an almost cinematic tension and grandeur, but features elaborate drumming during its expansive, emphatic post-rock bulky centre.
Nevertheless, those vocalists do make a big impression. “We Who Lament” has a touch of “A Dream Of Static” to it in terms of the lighter melodic guitar tones, but Keturah (The Heavy Medicine Band) offers her very distinctive and powerful voice in a way that takes it in a different direction to Dan Tompkins on the previous album’s title track. This song is one of several extensive multifaceted prog epics in the album’s first half; Let The Truth Speak does avoid overwhelming listeners by taking an interesting direction for the one-two of “The Lesser Evil” and “Denial’s Aura” in the middle. The former, featuring Larry Braggs and saxophonist Sam Gendel, has a very different flavour, with a theatricality and brass-driven zaniness that encompasses djent, jazz and arguably a touch of soul. Right afterwards, the achingly tender and soft “Denial’s Aura” features a duet between Keturah and VikKe accompanied by the harpists Duo Scorpio; the outcome is balladic, almost indie-esque, and thoroughly charming.
Let The Truth Speak isn’t flawless, although most of my critiques are in the realm of nitpicking; as much as I’ve sang the praises of the production, there are moments where I have found the drum production to be slightly distracting, mainly with some cymbal sounds. Beyond that, as happy as I am to see Aarlon’s Pritam Adhikary given an opportunity to shine such as this, I’m not sure the softer sung passages in the song’s first half really play to his strengths, but this track does grow in calibre in its more expansive second half. Similarly, while I enjoy AJ Channer’s (Fire From The Gods) soulful touch on “Pattern Of Rebirth”, I could do without the spoken word passage in the last minute.
These are all minor foibles, though, and when the album’s on song, it’s quite something. For me, there’s two tracks in particular that stand out. The album’s longest song, “Watching The Earth Sink”, is actually the only one with no credited guests, but left to their own devices, Earthside captivate with an awe-inspiring 12-minute instrumental prog effort that grows from minimalist beginnings to huge, tense percussion-driven climaxes. Still, my pick of the bunch has to be the title track, which once again features Tompkins; following up a sensational performance on the new TesseracT album, Tompkins once again demonstrates his incredible talents by delivering a varied, controlled and engrossing display on a song that drifts between deceptive lulls and soaring peaks.
A Dream In Static was an album that at times admittedly left me thinking: ‘this is great, but it perhaps occasionally prioritizes style over substance’. This time, Earthside have brought style and substance in huge and equal measures, to produce what is one of the elite prog-metal albums of 2023.
||Written on 19.11.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not|
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