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Dead Soul Tribe
Released: 2002, InsideOut
I really enjoyed listening to this CD, partly for enjoyment but also as an intellectual exercise. I didn’t really let myself go and lose myself in the musical moment with this band. I really attentively analyzed it the whole way through the very first time.
Why? Well, I was trying to draw comparisons with Psychotic Waltz. Devon Graves, the vocalist and all-round main dude of DST, was/is known as Buddy Lackey, the vocalist of Psychotic Waltz. (I have reviewed the first PW album this month as well, you can click here for the link.)
So what conclusions did I draw from my ponderings? DST is significantly different and much mellower, lighter, however you want to say it. Devon displays a vocal range that I never really knew he had before. If he had it wasn’t highlighted in PW that’s for sure! On some songs he sounds like himself (?) on another he sounds like Ty Tabor and on several others he sounds uncannily like Don Dokken! Which is a good thing. Devon does just about everything on the disc including flute and some alternate percussion.
Overall the songs are lush and sophisticated with depth and feeling. They are very emotive and even relaxing in places. The caliber of musicianship is very high but they don’t show off per se, just letting their natural talent shine through on interesting well-constructed songs. “Cry For Tomorrow” is one of those songs, lyrically it is essentially a list but it certainly doesn’t come across as someone reading their grocery list! Opening cut “Powertrip” is fantastic, heavy and expressive with cool lyrics.
DST are progressive metal but I would hesitate to use that term because it might draw unfair comparisons to Dream Theater or Symphony X. While both are top caliber bands, they are not what DST is all about. For instance, there are no long songs on this CD! Five and half is the longest and four of the thirteen tracks come in under the two-minute mark. DST avoid the mistake that plagues many prog-metal bands, which is not knowing when to pull the brakes. The ideas expressed are clear and concise and not too many ideas get crammed into a song. They seem to take one strong idea and expand it, instead of taking several weak ideas and using all of them. Maybe I’m over-analyzing but I already admitted that in the beginning of this review.
As with most (if not all) of their material the label, Insideout Music, has provided top-notch packaging and presentation. The always amazing Travis Smith art that adorns the booklet is cool to look at (check out the “eyeball trees”…freaky!) and matches the mood of the music contained within. Smith did a few PW album cover too years ago when he was starting out. Lyrics and photos are included in a well-designed package. They used several samples and thankfully they actually credit the movies they sample from! A nice touch.
I’m almost overwhelmed by the sheer quality and quantity of material coming from the IO label. Dead Soul Tribe is no exception. A highly recommended pick for fans of sophisticated metal, prog, hard rock and bands like King’s X, Digital Ruin, Pain of Salvation and maybe even Conception.
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