After eight years, cinematic prog metallers Earthside are releasing their sophomore effort, “Let The Truth Speak.” Their groundbreaking debut, “A Dream in Static” garnered attention due to their unique approach to the genre: the band does not have a lead vocalist. Instead, they approach their art form from a cinematic perspective with a combination of soundtrack inspired tracks along with guest singers brought in for a series of vocal based tracks. The results lead a widely diverse mix of music with the atmospheric instrumentals combined with a wide variety of different vocalists.
“Let The Truth Speak” continues in the tradition of the debut. The album is bookended by two instrumentals along with one in the middle of the album to divide up the vocal tracks. Each song is a different musical soundscape that follows a different path. As a result, it requires much from the listener to engage and allow themselves to become immersed in their world building. Lush, ever changing, there is much to explore here in this almost 80 minute foray into prog metal, soul, jazz, ambient and soundtrack inspired songwriting.
The album kicks off with the instrumental, “But What If We’re Wrong” featuring guest work from Sandbox Percussion out of Brooklyn. As mentioned, guest artists, both vocalists and instrumentalists, are a common theme with Earthside. These artists typically compliment the core Earthside sound by adding new colors to the palette. The debut primarily featured notable vocalists and instrumentalists such as Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Daniel Tompkins of Tesseract and the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra. With this release, the band primarily features lesser known artists, especially in prog metal circles, one of these being Sandbox Percussion out of Brooklyn. They are featured on the opener and, as their name implies, they enhance the music by employing various bells, chimes and other percussive elements to the track. The melody of the track is driving by the chimes along with some wonderful drum work by band member Ben Shanbrom and some soaring guitar work from primary songwriter, Jamie Van Dyck. The song is reminiscent of “Entering The Light” from the debut, in its intricacies.
The next track, “We Who Lament It,” features the vocals of female singer Keturah. She is a perfect fit to the Earthside sound, bringign power and emotion to the opening vocal track. In typical Earthside fashion the song wanders and weaves through various passages often swirling and dancing through various motifs and melodies that rarely, if ever, get repetitive.
“Tyranny” briefly puts aside the cinematic elements and begins with a lurching guitar riff. Our guest vocalist for this track is Pritam Adhikary. The heaviness factor is amplified here, with Adhikarys gravelly delivery working well with the heavier material, however he also adeptly navigates the softer more hypnotic passages as well. The track contains some nice arpeggiated sections that lull the listener into a trance before returning to the primary motif / riff introduced at the beginning. There is so much going on musically beneath the surface, headphones are highly recommended to pick out all the subtleties and nuances of the music.
Three tracks in so far, all very different in their construction. This pattern continues with “Pattern of Rebirth” that includes the almost reggae influence from guest singer AJ Channer from Fire From The Gods. This song may be the heaviest on the album and is a solid banger. In a first for Earthside, the vocalist, AJ, penned the lyrics in remembrance of his father, and them being very personal add another dimension to the music, as he explores life’s regrets as viewed from the mindset of his father. You can just feel the angst and regret in the words and vocal. It’s great to hear the band continue to stretch the cinematic boundaries first established on their debut.
The momentum stalls a bit as the pace slows with the somber instrumental, “Watching the Earth Sink.” The song begins with some solo, jazzy guitar in a minor key. As it progresses, it brings to mind some of Porcupine Tree’s more spacey, ambient instrumental sections, with a very introspective and patient build up. The track eventually picks up the pace to arrive at a driving rhythm, certainly a climb the mountain type of composition, that builds up to a summit and then winds it way back down to the valley below.
Next up is the real curve ball from the release, “The Lesser Evil.” Talk about an odd combination that just works really well. The track features Larry Braggs who has sung for The Temptations and Tower Of Power, and It shows the true fearlessness of the band, finding them willing to take chances and try something very different on this release. This song has it all. It starts as a soulful ballad that fully utilizes the talent and range of Braggs but then explodes into something entirely with horns and eight string guitars. Upon first listen, it reminded me of Mr. Bungle, with the wild juxtapositions in the changing sections. The song also features multi instrumentalist, Sam Gendel who really cuts loose on the saxophone, turning it into a real melting pot of metal, soul and jazz. A true example of progressive music, I’d love to hear them explore this direction even more in future releases.
The signature Earthside sound returns on “Denial’s Aria” which once again features Keturah and is joined by Latvian singer / songwriter, VikKe and the dual harp attack of New York based, Duo Scorpio. The guest performances for this release are truly an international affair. The song is just a gorgeous, hypnotic performance and probably contains one of the catchiest melodies on the album during the chorus.
Next up is “Vespers”, which serves as a prelude to the title track. It also features female vocalist VikKe and is our first introduction to Russian singer Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh, who is known for his ambient vocalizations that eerily float around the atmospheric groundwork of the music. Here (and on “Let The Truth Speak”) he provides an exoticism and mystical element to the soundscape.
The monster title track, “Let The Truth Speak”, features Daniel Tompkins from Tesseract. Dan is already on a roll this year with the spectacular “War of Being” album by his own band, and he also guests on the title track on the Earthside‘s debut. Once again he delivers a stunning performance that is evenly matched by the musicality of the Earthside core. This song is a textbook definition of progressive metal. Epic in length, swift changing movements, exotic melodies and filled with emotional highs and lows, it deserves repeated listens to fully grasp. Similar to the new Tesseract, Dan covers various emotions from falsetto highs to ferocious pitched screams. This is Earthside truly realizing their full potential in songwriting and song production creating, arguably, their best work to date. The vocal effects from Tkachenko–Papizh just add more depth to the musical journey as the track constantly shifts directions. It’s a testament to the band to see the levels they go to add the necessary spices to the musical soup. Would the song have worked without Tkachenko–Papizh’s contribution? Sure. But, it’s so much richer with his contributions included. Kudos to Earthside for going the extra mile and adding the rich layers to the music.
Many listeners are likely already familiar with the final track, the haunting “All We Knew and Ever Loved.” The cinematic instrumental that features some manic drumming from Leprous drummer, Baard Kolstad in the climax of the track. The accompanying video provides a great visual companion to the dramatic album closer that agains highlights the Earthside shifts from cinematic instrumentals to emotionally charged progressive metal firepower. Earthside are just so adept at conveying emotion in these sonic landscapes they paint without any words. The weight and gravity of the track are perfectly communicated with the musical score.
“Let The Truth Speak” certainly requires some attention from the listener and patience as some of the melodies are delivered like a budding flower: slow, elequent and gradual. It’s fair to approach each track as a musical vignette that pairs different performers to deliver a diverse collection of tracks.
This is not an album to sleep on. It is a very complex, thoughtful collection of music that challenges the listener and constantly pushes the bounds of music as an art form. In the wrong hands, this collection could seem sprawling and lacking identity. Earthside, however, have established such a unique personality that it is stamped on all the tracks from the soaring instrumentals to the crushing vocal centric pieces. I would love to see the band focus their efforts on a conceptual release in the future since they style of music is so good at conveying a story. Until then, “Let The Truth Speak” is well worth your attention.
Released By: Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group
Release Date: November 17th, 2023
Genre: Cinematic Progressive Metal
- Jamie van Dyck / Guitars, backing vocals, programming, keyboards
- Ben Shanbrom / Drums, backing vocals
- Frank Sacramone / Keyboards, synthesizers, programming, percussion, guitar
- Ryan Griffin / Bass, backing vocals
“Let The Truth Speak” track-list:
1. But What If We’re Wrong (Featuring Sandbox Percussion)
2. We Who Lament (Featuring Keturah)
3. Tyranny (Featuring Pritam Adhikary of Aarlon)
4. Pattern Of Rebirth (Featuring AJ Channer of Fire From The Gods)
5. Watching The Earth Sink
6. The Lesser Evil (Featuring Larry Braggs & Sam Gendel)
7. Denial’s Aria (Featuring Keturah, VikKe & Duo Scorpio)
8. Vespers (Featuring Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh & VikKe)
9. Let The Truth Speak (Featuring Daniel Tompkins of TesseracT & Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh)
10. All We Knew And Ever Loved (Featuring Baard Kolstad of Leprous)
Pre order “Let The Truth Speak“ HERE
Cinematic prog metallers Earthside return after eight long years to deliver another haunting, but crushing series of soundscapes as strong as they are varied