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Dyssidia - Costly Signals Award winner

Costly Signals
by Emily Schneider at 19 May 2020, 10:00 PM

Progressive Metal is a complicated genre. When I read the sub-genre name, a bunch of bands that all sound different from one another but still fall under that vein fly into my mind. So when I received “Costly Signals” in my promos, I had very little idea on what flavor of Prog Metal I was going to get. Australian band DYSSIDIA surprised me with their first full studio album by creating this masterful Prog paradise type of debut. For me, their "flavor" is like a blend of TESSERACT and TEXTURES with a splash of Blackened Death Metal a-la early 2000s OPETH. It might sound a bit out there, but read on to see what I mean.

“Thrive” is one hell of an opener! If there's one thing that stood out the most, it was the contrast in many elements of the song; the menacing growled and heavenly clean vocals along with the evil then bright sounding melodies. It makes it really interesting to listen to. Not to mention, as a plant nerd, I loved the references to different plants and flowers within the lyrics. I'm already humming the “forget me not” chorus. “The Gutted Stag” has a heavy, chuggy intro with some keys weaved in. Once the screamed vocals came in, I definitely caught IHSAHN influences. The keys paired with the haunting clean vocals at the bridge to the end paints a visual of a moonlit clearing in the heart of the forest… revealing a gutted stag near the center. The grass around him is withered and the world around him is still. Nothing but the light of the moon guides him to peace at last. It's a heartbreaking and emotional song when you listen closely to it. “Infinitesimal” is definitely Mitch placing his entry in for the vocal olympics. This song is fast as hell, including his singing style. Tons of syncopation and octave leaps, it's wild to listen to. “Bloodrush” slows it back down. Dimitri's keys shine vibrantly in this track with flowing melodies that accompany this mesmerizing track. You can feel the chaotic emotions of an existential crisis in this song, not just from the back and forth in the subconscious in the lyrics, but the music evokes it too.  The way the song speeds up as the thoughts spiral downward and lead to the words “You shall travel home” made me have to pause everything and sit in silence for a couple of minutes. It felt necessary to let this track really sink in.

“Arrival” has an ethereal whimsical first half. Like the forest clearing is now illuminated with dawn's light and the forest is alive again. Healing. Then the fierce guitar riffs and wind-like keys symbolize the force against nature, which is the destructive selfishness of humanity, and the forest isn't as lush as it seemed. “An Obvious Antidote” is a short and haunting track that leads perfectly into “Metamorphosis”. There's this almost spiraling effect in the beginning of the song, created by the whirling keys and dancing bass line. The vocal changes are so damn cool in this one; the screamed vocals are quite primal, then the cleans are raw and emotional. It's like the internal conflict of man's carnal vs. civilized instincts going on. “Good Grief” is the 'epic' length track on this Prog Metal wonder. This song really creates a visual of the 'civilized' world crumbling around humanity and nature getting revenge for the hell man has put it through. The cascading style riffs creates a tumultuous scene to start the song out. I love the jazzy saxophone and keys bit in the middle of the song, it created this feeling of still. The repeated verse “With all the anger turned to honey from nostalgia.” grows in intensity during this time of stillness, it gave me goosebumps. The song ends with this lingering feeling of pure despair. “Hope's Remorseful Retreat” is a slower almost atmospheric track. You can feel the isolation, the grasping in the dark for something, anything to guide you back to the light. The keys in this song are so beautiful and intricate; this sweeping setting painting style reminds me a lot of HAKEN. “Truth Be Told” is a whimsical closing track. It has this feeling of solace to it, like everything is finally at peace. The melodies are a bit brighter, but there's still a veil of gray over the clearing sky. The layered vocals are so euphoric with the mystical keys, I went back and listened to them a few times over after my first listen-through. The end of this song does feel final, like you finally escaped the prison of your mind and you can finally just be; it's honestly damn near perfect.

In conclusion, this album was an experience. DYSIDDIA takes an already complex genre, Prog Metal, and manged to add in some complex subject matter (existential crisis, nature gains control over man, the works!) to their music. It was rather beneficial to have the lyrics in front of me to read along as I listened. It helped paint such vivid visuals in my head as every song went along. I really enjoy the growled vocals being one point of view and the clean vocals being the opposite, it added a fantastic contrast to every song. I also can't stop thinking about the gorgeous keys on this album. I find in many modern day Prog Metal bands, the keys get buried within electronic or Djent style riffs or just too much distortion. Not only can you hear and enjoy some melodic orchestration, Dimitri had plenty of moments that the keys are front and center as well. I think the best part of this album is the fact that I feel like I am just scratching the surface on what details I'll find when I listen to this album again, hell, what details I'll find after listening to it several times over. “Costly Signals” is certainly an album that needs time to truly sink your teeth into it and THAT is a shining trait of an excellent Progressive Metal album.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

2.The Gutted Stag
6.An Obvious Antidote
8.Good Grief
9.Hope's Remorseful Retreat
10. If Truth Be Told
Mitch Brackman - Vocals
Corey Davis - Guitars
Dimitri Ioannou - Keys
Neil Palmer - Bass
Liam Weedall – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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