Australia. Population: 22 million. Land area size: 3 million square miles. Main exports: coal, iron ore, wool, machinery, and a bunch of popular rock bands. Some of those include AC/DC, Sick Puppies, Parkway Drive, everyone’s favorite Little River Band, and a small band quickly gaining momentum, Dead Letter Circus. And their rise caps off with their awe-striking, phenomenal debut, This Is The Warning.
Just like another progressive rock group, Karnivool, these guys’ success is mainly due to one thing in their music: originality. Obviously originality is a key to a band making a good album, but there’s also that dividing line between a band being so original that they’re an outcast in the music scene and being so stale that they’re thrown away like spoiled milk. Dead Letter Circus fits snugly between this line. It’s often hard for a band to find their niche, but they have gone above and beyond a niche. They are leaders in their genre.
The band tools around a bit with different bits and pieces of progressive rock, mixing high vocals with soaring melodies. It makes the songs catchy, memorable, and it’s heavy enough for the band to be considered a “core” band. The guitar parts and swift and phenomenally strewn across the atmospheric background that they play to.
In short, This Is The Warning succeeds in the musical aspect. Songs like “One Step” and “Big” have had me singing along for weeks, while they bring some soft near-Metallica moments and even some technical aspects that may be a result of the successes of dudes like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The lyrics are very thought-provoking, as the band stated that this record is “a first person account of awakening to the construct that has been put in place in an attempt to control and mold us. However, it’s also about refusing to be a subject of it and forging your own path.”
The band is unique and meaningful with most of the lyrics they sing, and that’s something you cannot forget about this album: the captivating emotions that tool with your sanity. And this album definitely plays around with despair, sadness, and often confusion. Often, the speedy guitar riffs fit to this theme, with an almost machine-like finesse in the melodies that Dead Letter Circus plays. Other times, they play to the atmospheric respect that made Deftones so successful, as they have an almost mesmerizing effect on the listener (“Here We Divide,” Cage”). But they change the album’s tempo enough, in quicker songs like “Reaction,” to keep the album from putting the listener to sleep, though there are some skippable parts.
Their ability to create deafening harmonies creates more variety within the lengthy 12-track record. They attempt at working in their themes that I stated above, and making the record a bit grungy and possibly metal-esque. They play around with synth elements, but definitely not very much, because the chugging guitar belts out some incredibly high riffs that balance out the sophisticated bass lines. “This Is The Warning” is a mysterious and breathtaking closer that implants a message for change in your mind.
Simply stated, Dead Letter Circus succeeds with originality and it makes This Is The Warning have a lasting effect on the listener and possibly the industry and genre of progressive rock in general. After hearing this album, it’s hard to forget how epic it is. Thank you Australia.
Progressive Rock | Sumerian Records