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Trope - Eleutheromania Award winner

by Mark Machlay at 06 April 2021, 3:07 AM

Hollywood, LA, is known more for churning out movies than it is for music, but alternative rock band TROPE gave me whiplash with what they put out with their debut full-length “Eleutheromania”. Formed in 2016, the band features vocalist Diana Studenberg, guitarist/producer Moonhead, guitarist Joe Ciccia, bassist Todd Demma and drummer Sasha Siegel. Moonhead had been working mostly as a producer starting to write some material on his own. At the time, he didn’t have a plan for the material, mainly writing to relieve stress and tension. Having met Studenberg after working on a few of her solo tracks some years back, decided to reach out to her.  The chemistry was immediate as STUDENBERG came up with lyric and melody ideas for what would become the first song on the album. They then spent 2 years writing and recording demos before approaching others to help with the album. Moonhead sent demos for feedback to Mike Fraser (producer for METALLICA and AC/DC) and David Bottril who has worked with such renowned artists as Peter Gabriel and TOOL.

They then went into the studio to record what would become “Eleutheromania”. They recorded at Mike Fraser’s studio in Vancouver to track the album. “I’m a big fan of Mike’s work, especially on an album he did with John Sykes called ‘Blue Murder’”, Thompson admits. David Bottril would then go on to mix the album while Ted Jensen - famous for working with HALESTORM and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS – would master. TROPE tracks are not typical alternative rock stereotypes as they feature odd-time signature polyrhythms in addition to heavy guitars and delicate yet angst-ridden vocals provided by Studenberg. Before the pandemic locked everything down, the band had made a name for themselves across the US at LA’s Whisky A Go Go, The Viper Room and the Hollywood Improv as well as played the main stage twice at Summerfest in Wisconsin. They were planning an 18-date European tour across 7 countries -  some with the progressive rock band KING’s X - before being postponed due to the worldwide pandemic restrictions.

What is so striking about TROPE is how well they match that mid-90s to early-2000s alternative rock and metal sound that I almost felt myself time travel to my younger self. This was right around the time I was discovering progressive bands like DREAM THEATER and KING’s X and was starting to abandon the SOUNDGARDEN and ALICE IN CHAINS phase of my listening. To his own credit, Moonhead adopted the sentiment. He reiterates the words of a recent review he received about their music, “We are basically a progressive alt band masquerading as an alternative rock band”. It’s as if the band got stuck right in the apex of the most significant musical development I had. The album opens with “Lambs”, a near anthem like SILVERCHAIR’s “Anthem for the Year 2000” about bullying, overcoming and eventually confronting your adversary. It’s powerful, yet simple chorus, juxtaposed with the quieter, rhythmically complex chorus really works. You can really feel the TOOL influence in “Pareidolia” witch its strong bass guitar driven, polyrhythmic romp while still having a beautiful simplicity to it that makes it catchy and singable. Then there is their cover of the TEARS FOR FEARS song “Shout” which may be more straightforward, but they prove their talent by stripping all the glitz from the original, adding interesting heavy riffage in the chorus and stringing you along with the delicate voice of STUDENBERG. They are already hard at work on their follow-up, using their COVID lockdown time to their advantage and it will be very intriguing to see what they can come up with next.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Lambs
2. Breach
3. Surrogate
4. Shout (TEARS FOR FEARS cover)
5. Pareidolia
6. Planes
7. Privateer
8. Plateau
9. Hyperextend
10. Seasons Change
Diana Studenberg – Vocals
Moonhead – Producer & Guitar
Joe Ciccia – Guitar
Todd Demma – Bass
Sasha Siegel – Drums
Record Label: Beats Mee Records


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Edited 30 September 2022

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