Progressive Metal and concept albums go hand in hand, much like those released in the 60’s and 70’s in the realms of the Prog Rock genre. Artistic licence to create long, convoluted and ‘deep’ stories which are conveyed through the medium of music, it’s not something everyone can take to and Progressive Metal is one of things you either get or you don’t. With modern day titans Dream Theater and Ayreon paving the way (Ayreon having their entire discography dedicated to the art of the concept album!). Brazilian trio, Daydream XI are now raising the stakes and looking to join in with their release “The Circus Of The Tattered And Torn”, so step right up folks, grab your ticket and try to enjoy the show.
Like with all concept albums, this is something you need to actually sit down to and focus on if you want to get the full story. With some brief moments on the release purely dedicated to advancing the narrative (opening sample based Ticket 000011 is an example) and the rest explained through brief moments in instrumental sections of tracks and in parts of the lyrics, it isn’t one for casual listening if you want the full experience.
If you want to listen to it purely in the musical sense, any story or meaning cast aside, then it’s what you expect from a progressive metal album. With a feel similar to that of mid 2000’s Dream Theater (Train of Thought and Octavarium era), it is a hard hitting and technical release. The musicianship is superb, everything is well measured, composed to perfection (In the eyes of the band) and does have some influences to the prog of days past. “Open The Curtains” has some Uriah Heep and Kansas like moments, especially with the utilisation of the hammond organ effects and the role the synths play in augmenting the musical delivery is spot on. Tracks like “Painted Smile” with its insane bass solo intro have that heavy edge to them, combining technicality with ferocity in tone to give a wild feel in places whilst “Trust-Forged Knife” has more of a nod to the more melodic Ayreon tracks found on the likes of ‘The Human Equation’.
The vocals play a massive part of the overall sound. The huge range and power backing their delivery helps give life to both the story and the music, making tracks like the soft and gentle natured “Windblown” seem like a totally different creature when compared to the powerfully bellowed “Overhauling Wounds” and the captivating and vocally impressive “Collector Of Souls” which has that bluesy Baptist church choir feel to it which is a rather unique touch and works pretty damn well.
Later in the album, shades of Frank Zappa rear their head (the atonal sequences in A Cup Of Agony) and Tool feel basslines on “Forgettable” add another hint of where Daydream are taking their influences from, but in all these moments, despite them feeling familiar, they do have their own uniqueness and individuality to them. More like the music is paying its dues to the influences as opposed to just simply out right copying the sound, style and approach. Wrapping up the release is the obligatory 15 minute plus length prog monster which also happens to be the title track, and it does well in summarising the album both in the sense of the sound and the story. It’s got all the usual tropes you expect in a progressive metal epic; the shifting time signatures, extended instrumentals, rhythmic disruptions, big sounding moments, intricate arrangements and some gratuitous fret wankery. In all, it’s a good end to what is musically a good album.
Gripe wise, I couldn’t follow the story all the time, perhaps on more listens I could pick it up, but in the greater scheme of things, the fact this is a well crafted, though at times, long winded release. Step up and enjoy the show if you like things complicated!