The Pitch: "I'm a literal nobody, but have dreams of someday becoming a somebody in the music scene." This was the message in my inbox a few days ago, and it's now among my favorites. Let's see if we can make it happen. ISA is a one man self-described psychedelic progressive death metal project out of Somerville, Massachusetts. The latest album, Chimera, just dropped in April and it's pretty interesting.
What I Like: "It's a concept album that takes a trippy dream journey. Musically, it's densely layered progressive metal (riffy, not djent), technical and thoughtful, full of absurd time signature changes and intricate instrumentation, and rich with mesmerizing psychedelic atmospheres," says Dan. "I wanted to create music you could get lost in, music that would take you far from where you started, without ever being boring or losing technicality and intricacy." He continues, "the entire album was written to build to a final 11/8 crescendo...It's the thread of consciousness that ties the whole dream together. Take the journey with me, and let your mind be free of this world."
My reaction? Bravo. This album is definitely one for the burgeoning technical songwriters out there. The closest comparison I can think of is Black Harvest, though Dan has a style entirely his own. The album flows like one seemless, ever-changing song; one brimming with shifting textures, mind-contorting riffs, killer bass grooves ("Stage VII - Freedom"), and haunting atmosphere. It really does feel like falling into a dreamscape, and the deeper you get into it, the better the songs get.
Critiques: I do feel that Dan could work on translating his technical prowess into something more palatable at times. The music is incredibly dense. Much like my qualms with Gorguts I get a little worn down (though this is in a different way). Incorporating a few earworm hooks and more vocal variation could make this a little more enjoyable on top of being unique and impressively performed.
The Verdict: ISA is an intriguing project that puts the right foot forward with Chimera. The musicianship is on point, the approach is unique, and I believe he succeeds in creating "music you could get lost in." I'll be interested to hear how this sound matures in the future. Listen and purchase below.
Flight's Fav's: Freedom, Ocean, Recursion
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