Dyssidia have been bubbling beneath the surface of the Australian prog scene since 2010. Yet, across their previous three EPs, the Adelaide act never quite managed to combine their many (and often melodramatic) influences into a cohesive whole. With their debut LP, Costly Signals, however, the band have consolidated their sound into a magnificent melting pot of modern progressive metal.
The band’s sound on Costly Signals remind me, first and foremost, of a rawer Calligula’s Horse, with a bit more traditional, Dream Theater-style, progressive riffing thrown in for good measure. The more I listen to it, however, the more reference points get added to that description. Mitch Brackman’s vocals, for example, alternate between soaring, Leprous-like melodies and gruff, SikTh-style semi-spoken sections, with occasional dips into Devin Townsend-esque floatiness, with some of the more stilted and complex riffing and occasional piano sections bringing to mind Between the Buried and Me (especially on tracks like “Metamorphoses”). Yet, Costly Signals is not merely the sum of Dyssidia’s influences, with the band bringing an added authenticity to their sound that sets them apart from, and arguably above, the competition.
Where Dyssidia have the edge over their influences is in their rougher, more naturalistic presentation. Although often bright and undeniably punchy, there’s a rougher tone to Costly Signals that stands out against their often often overly-crisp contemporaries. The overly polished production on albums like Caligula’s Horse’s In Contact or Leprous’s more recent offerings is the main barrier stopping me from appreciating them to the extent that I probably should, and, in a scene that arguably over-values polish, the roughness around Dyssidia’s edges is beyond refreshing. Costly Signals is also granted some extra heft, thanks to the heavier drumming of Liam Weedall (Hadal Maw, ex-Double Dragon), which, while it doesn’t ever go full death metal (except maybe briefly during “Good Grief”), adds significantly to the darkness that underscores Dyssidia’s sound and, again, sets them apart from the Caligula’s Horses and Karnivools of the world.