The Stranger – Kaleidoscope (Album Review)

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For some years now, there has been something exciting going on in Australia in terms of prog music. Several Aussie bands have managed to cement the Australian prog scene as one of the most important, refreshing, and innovative in the world. Frequently, new prog bands are appearing and contribute to continuing to grow the Aussie prog offer. On this occasion, the Brisbane-based prog-metal band The Stranger successfully presents a solid candidacy to join such collective with the release of their sophomore album called “Kaleidoscope” which will be out on April 9, 2021.

As if it were a kaleidoscope, The Strangers’ newest record presents several elements that converge throughout the album, making it riveting. At times it creates contrasts between them, and on other occasions they complement each other, generating a feeling of intrigue within the listener. The intricate, heavy, and dark music is intertwined with concepts that delve into the psychological damage provoked by social isolation, the physical harm experienced due to climate change, as well as pensive topics as anxiety, depression, and dealing with other people. 

The Stranger portrays a sonic canvass that depicts different strokes that range from wild djent, exciting prog metal, and a dark twist on synth wave. The sonic layers reflected on this “Kaleidoscope” allow the music to reach different intensity levels, just as Tom Fayne’s constant switch between roaring growls and a clean voice accentuates the music’s dynamism. 

Opening track “Eleventh Hour” wastes no time presenting the listener how The Stranger manages to blend synth wave with heavy polyrhythms, while thematically carrying out a protest regarding the inadequate attention given to climate change its harmful effects. 

Enriching Kaleidoscope’s musical approach’s dynamism, “The Gemini” presents an evolving structure that starts with the combination of synth-wave with splendid guitar work. After the aching chorus, the intensity changes into a subtle movement that sees the band leaving out the ferocity and heaviness for a moment, where the vibrant bass and drums grooves take the lead, creating a fascinating passage.

Although different songs throughout the album display how The Stranger achieves the enthralling blend of djent and prog metal, as well as the contrast between heavy and soft parts, it is “The Devil You Don’t” in which such changes are even more pronounced. The aggressiveness and hostility level peaked due to the frantic djent riffs and spiteful growls, delivering the heaviest track on the record.

The closing track “Kaleidoscope” allows The Stranger to continue exploring introspective issues, as the vulnerability felt at society’s judgment and the strength that leads to self-acceptance. The acoustic passages perform a vital role on this track, serving as the song’s guide instead of being a counterpoint to the heavy parts. Unlike the rest of the songs, the blend of musical approaches and the sonic contrasts are not so marked, but far from affecting its evolution, it allows to clearly portray its uplifting message. 

A kaleidoscope can show multiple images that, with a simple twist, can generate infinite combinations. Potentially, human beings are the same. The possibility of what we will do or what we will become are countless, but whatever it is, we should make sure to strive to do our best and recognize and value our effort, just as Tom Frayne learn to do.

Released By: Octane Records
Released Date: April 9th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Metal


  • Tom Frayne / vocals
  • Daniel O’Brien / drums
  • Linc Morse / bass
  • Andrew Taylor / guitar
  • Kalen Austin / guitar

“Kaleidoscope” track-listing:

  1. Eleventh Hour
  2. The Gemini
  3. Jungles
  4. Jester
  5. Coming Home
  6. Siren
  7. Creatures in the Canopy
  8. The Devil You Don’t
  9. Kaleidoscope
8.5 Excellent

With their second album, Kaleidoscope, the Aussie prog metal band The Stranger presents a unique and exciting blend of djent, prog metal, and dark synth-wave that place them as part of the thrilling and growing Australian prog metal brood.

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8

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