Much of the secret to modern progressive metal is in finesse. The genre is so burdened with the transgressions of the past (sins ranging from musical masturbation to aesthetic irrelevance) that it inherently evokes a certain amount of disdain and initial recoil. Thus, the artist wishing to make progressive metal in this day and age must try harder to dispel these unprofessional, tacky, and repulsive layers of self importance. In order to do so, professionalism, integrity and a dash of minimalism is required. Finesse, you see? Without these, modern progressive metal is quickly cataloged along its predecessors and rightfully so; metal has had quite enough of extravagant gestures, devoid of real meaning beyond the commercial.
Luckily, we have Earthside to remind us of what such finesse looks like. Their 2015 A Dream in Static was a perfect exercise in sincerity and musical integrity, revolving on varied vocal guest spots, sprawling compositions and flawless execution. Needless to say, it’s truly a superb album. Thus, we’ll take any reminder we can get of it, especially if that reminder comes in the form of an astonishingly excellent video from the always excellent Erez Bader (of Silent Flight Productions). In charge of excellent music videos for The Dear Hunter (“Gloria”), Thomas Giles (“Devotion”) and Wings Denied (“Catalyst”), Bader is a singular producer in the music video industry (and beyond). Together with Earthside’s powerful lyrics, assisted by one Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT), he has produced a convincing and striking music video, steeped in its own myth and symbolical meaning.
The video exists in three separate, real world locations, weaved into one story. First, the band themselves play their instruments, injecting the composition with verve and conviction. Second, the always mesmerizing studio presence of Tompkins crosses oceans (as we assume they were on separate continents while filming) with its charisma, reminding us once again why he is one of our favorite vocalists. His obvious attention to the emotional flow and delivery of the track is unparalleled. Lastly, true to its name, the video unfolds for us a dreamscape, a journey undertaken by a mysterious, golden figure. Along the way, she is accosted by what appears to be a dark mirror image, constantly thwarting her attempts at self discovery and actualization.
This meshes with the lyrics to the track quite well, busy as they are with our journey towards ourselves. Comments Ben Shanbrom, the band’s drummer:
“As with our music, we like to allow our listeners the space to have their own interpretations of the story, but in general terms, “A Dream In Static” is a song about shooting for the stars and falling into the abyss somewhere along the way. Darkness can creep in on us from the outside and it can also grow within us. A question the song and video begs is “what’s left of us when the darkness wins, and who, or what, do we become?“
Beyond its vision, meaning and excellent execution, the video from “A Dream In Static” reminds us what a complete band looks like. Far from being satiated by their recent album release, Earthside keep pushing their vision into new expressions. This paints their music with a dedication that is hard to resist, lifting what was already an excellent release to new heights. As with their previous video (for “Mob Mentality”), this one manages to inject the track with new meaning and strength. It’s a rare video which does that and an even rarer band willing to rework their vision to achieve such re-invigoration.