Daniel Cece

Hot Off the Press: Earthside - "Let the Truth Speak"

Music Scene Media
Jan 9, 2024
4 min read
Artwork by Travis Smith - Seempieces

The term, "Progressive", seems to have lost much of its meaning when it comes to defining modern music and musical artists these days. That is not a ridicule of music quality or the fans who consume any kind of music in any way, but rather that the etymology of the term and the way it is applied to music (particularly rock and metal) has simply deviated from its original meaning. The term, "Progressive", simply means any kind of music (or art) that pushes the genre forward in a way that no one else or only a handful of other artists are doing at the time. It has been used historically as a label for musicians who are dissatisfied with playing styles that are all too common in the mainstream and, instead, opt to forge an entirely new creation from entirely new material that bends boundaries, takes risks, and tests uncharted waters in ways akin to how an explorer who ventures off a marked trail would. It is a form of artistic purity and integrity intended to send the message that a particular artist or group of artists reject the norm, choosing instead to be true pioneers and creators in every sense, regardless of the reception from the industry around them. I am proud to say that, in this day and age of sonic homogenization, I can confidently count on at least one band to remain Progressive in every sense of the term, and that band is Earthside.

My goal with album reviews is not to break down every song using fancy music theory terminology to give a play-by-play script of each measure, because that spoils the first listen-through for the audience. That's not a review – that's a dissertation. Plus, in the case of Let the Truth Speak, that would exceed several (hundred) thousand words. Instead, I wish to capture aspects of a particular album that otherwise might go unrecognized so that your first listen can be approached from as many artistic dimensions as possible, allowing you to get as much from the music as possible. Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of reviewing Earthside's debut record, A Dream in Static, which took the underground metal scene by storm with its blend of unique character and proprietary soundscapes, not to mention the choice of vocal features that span the entirety of the metal genre catalog, from Tesseract's Daniel Tompkins to Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust. At the time, I was unsure how to properly articulate everything that Earthside had to offer, and in true Progressive fashion, Let the Truth Speak follows suit by leaving listeners at a loss for words at times by blending sounds, styles, influences, and ideas in ways that seem to transcend language itself.

It is worth noting that upon my first run-through of Let the Truth Speak, there were sections of songs that did not catch my ear quite the same way as others did. It wasn't until after subsequent listens that I developed an appreciation for why those sections were some of the most important in the album. As I explained above, to be Progressive means to deviate from what is expected, traditional, or otherwise generic, and oftentimes that means creating music that confounds the brain. This is why much of the mainstream often rejects Progressive music or musical styles – they aren't always catchy or familiar! Usually, songs that push conventional artistic boundaries and introduce new musical concepts will be difficult to digest at first, possibly even after several listens. This is one of my favorite things about Let the Truth Speak and is something that seemed to have been a priority for Earthside even more so than it was for their debut album. Concisely put, they chose to further progress their already Progressive modus operandi, and that is something that I appreciate more than almost anything else. Without giving too much away, I, personally, encountered this the most within the tracks "Tyranny" and "The Lesser Evil". However, every single track on Let the Truth Speak has elements that are almost guaranteed to leave you with more questions than answers, and that's exactly what they intended. Earthside keyboardist, Frank Sacramone, shared his views on both the new record and their debut record by saying, "I think that's a thing with our albums – they require patience, and they might not even be close to your favorite music at first listen...but as years go by, it's like, 'Man, this music just has something about it.'. And we did take a lot of risks, and it makes the stakes higher." He continues by adding, "I've realized that it's easier to be critical of higher-aiming art, because when something is trying to be the best, there's room for more scrutiny...".

One element that did captivate me throughout Let the Truth Speak, one that I am thankful that Earthside continued to extrapolate more on since their debut album, was the inclusion of the magnificently resplendent instrumental soundscapes that they have come to perfect. Their appropriately-named track, "Watching the Earth Sink", is a prime example of what it means to create an elaborate visual through the use of sound. The record carries you down through deep valleys and back up to memorable mountaintops time and time again as it explores distant, fantastical lands that span worlds unknown. Let the Truth Speak offers something new with each listen, a notion that can only be found in art created with the utmost authenticity and proper care. It is dynamic, with no two tracks sounding even remotely alike. Despite coming out in late 2023, it has taken me until now to even begin to feel competent enough to talk about it in a way that does it justice, and even now I feel that words will remain woefully insufficient. Similarly with A Dream in Static, Earthside partnered with a variety of artists like Keturah, Fire From the Gods' own AJ Channer, Sandbox Percussion, as well as Daniel Tompkins for a second time. The album's final track is a powerful instrumental ballad full of orchestral layers set to leave you suspended in time. The finale also boasts my favorite percussionist, Baard Kolstad of Leprous, who adds his signature flair to what starts as an already monumental buildup.

Even at 1000+ words, I cannot begin to adequately sum up what makes Let the Truth Speak so special and so important for the genre. Instead, I recommend taking the time to sit down with this album and giving it your undivided attention, for the first listen at least. I can only hope that Earthside and bands like them can continue to capture the attention of more and more rock fans over time and inevitably serve as a beacon of true musical progressivism in a world dominated by cookie-cutter industry plants.

Overall score: 9.5/10

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