Trope formed in 2016 and are comprised primarily of guitarist and producer Dave Thompson and vocalist Diana Studenberg and come from Hollywood. The album called Eleutheromania (meaning “a great desire, or an obsession for freedom”) was mixed by David Bottrill (Tool and Peter Gabriel amongst others), mastered by Ted Jensen (Stone Temple Pilots and Eagles etc) and engineered by Mike Fraser (AC/DC and Metallica etc). Yes, it does sound terrific! At its core, it is a mix of prog metal and 90s alternative music floating between dreamy melodies and bombastic and heavy time signatures. The album is very short with just 10 songs and a running time of around 35 minutes so. All the songs are around 3 or 4 minutes and even though it is definitely in the prog world the album is definitely song orientated with no long solos to be found.
A Look At Some Of The Best Moments:
Opener “Lambs” gives you an insight right away as to what to expect throughout the album. Sparse at times sound-wise, quiet and reflective but with moments of high intensity and time changes with an atmosphere that is reminiscent of either Tool or A Perfect Circle. Diana‘s voice pulls you in, it is beautiful. It is captivating and haunting in equal measure. There are moments that reminded me of Tom Morello guitar-wise. The way the riff sounds at the start of “Breach” is like something from Audioslave. The difference in vibe from the huge lush chorus and the heavy syncopated riffage makes this a great listen. The drum fills at points (like in a number of songs) are powerful and impressive. “Privateer” also has that Audioslave meets Soundgarden thing going on. The riff drives through the song, coming in and out with the bass pounding through the headphones. Very satisfying. There are a number of quick changes in pace and vibe during the song and the outro is fun for drumming. Talking of drumming, some of the work in “Pareidolia” especially around the 2-minute mark is fabulous. The track itself is quite dream-like, in fact, trippy and psychedelic (befitting the title). The bass throughout the album is nice and high in the mix and this song it seems even more so. For those wondering, the title refers to the idea of seeing images of faces in things, perceptions that need not be correct (like seeing Jesus on a slice of toast for instance).
“Planes” is particularly lovely with a gorgeous pre-chorus section that shimmers with beauty. It has a folk vibe to it, quite fragile and ethereal in parts. It has slightly heavier moments at the chorus but it is still very easy on the ear. “Season’s Change” is quite Celtic sounding, especially in the guitar motif which at times is played very quietly under melancholic vocal lines. Another sumptuous track that has such charm and stays with you after it is over.
There is one cover, which seems a bit much when there are only 35 minutes of music, however, I think it is well worthy of inclusion. “Shout” the song originally done by Tears For Fears and quite famously covered by Disturbed has a new slant put on it by Trope. It is rearranged, darker than the original (and not just made into a metal song like the other cover I mentioned) with a very emotional heartfelt vocal full of need, desire and desperation. There is a sparseness about it, lots of breathing space (along with breathy vocals) that pulls you in as a listener. It is one of the better covers I have heard in a long time, not a copy and not just played faster or heavier (which happens a lot).
This is a fine debut album that will please anyone who likes atmospheric music, a mix of progressive rock/metal and 90s alternative music. The playing is excellent and the vocals stunning. The songs are interesting, well constructed and written and the production top-notch. Fan of bands such as Tool, Audioslave, King Crimson (80s especially), Evanescence and A Perfect Circle especially should enjoy what is on offer. Hopefully, they will make a longer album next time as I would love to hear more. Good stuff all round!