Latest release: Costly Signals (Independent) Website: www.facebook.com/dyssidiaband
No matter where the world goes from this moment, there will always be people excited to be exhibiting their latest creative work. Adelaide five piece Dyssidia, for example, have just released their first full-length album. The culmination of an almost decade-long career and three years’ worth of creative energy, Costly Signals is an elaborate tapestry of light and shade, progressive arrangements and sweeping musical drama that paints with a wide palette.
“There are a lot of songs on this album that may be hard to follow,” admits vocalist Mitch Brackman, “but that being said, I think it gives the record a lot of relisten value.”
Costly Signals sprawls across a progressive landscape that resounds with the echoes of other explorers from Dream Theater to Caligula’s Horse and various points in between. From his own part, Brackman displays a diverse vocal ability, occasionally exhibiting a ragged croon reminiscent of the late Warrel Dane. Brackman considers that comparison to be something of an honour.
“Years ago, my guitarist Corey (Davis) showed me Nevermore, and to be honest I really disliked them,” Brackman explains. “I couldn’t get into them. I thought Warrel was pitchy, and he didn’t really have much control, but over the last few years I’ve really delved deeper into the sound that he created with that band and I’ve really kind of resonated with it on different kinds of levels. I feel that in parts I’ve been a little too surgical with my vocals. Especially with this album, I’ve divided my vocals in various different parts, like I’ve got a low narrative vibe going through the tracks that glues everything together. And that would be attributed mostly to Warrel Dane!”
Dyssidia’s discography is already three EPs deep, the most recent of which was 2016’s Of Delight and Despair. Brackman contends that the band took a different slant with their approach this time and harboured a few doubts about how it might be received.
“We all struggled with this being our first major release. We didn’t know how people were going to react to it, especially with a slightly new direction. We’ve stayed true to how we are as musicians in a general sense, but with a little more focus. We did a little more pre-production with this album compared to the last few EPs that we had done and I think that in itself has honed a lot of our energy into a bit more of a focus from this album.”
Focus has come in the shape of shorter compositions overall, although they still branch out extravagantly on tracks like centrepiece Good Grief that comes complete with a trumpet solo provided by a mate of bass player Neil Palmer. At an average of six and a half minutes though, Costly Signals’ tunes are generally significantly shorter than those Dyssidia has been previously known to write.
“With the EPs in particular, we had the tendency to, perhaps, milk some sections some too long,” Brackman says with careful insight. “Either that or we’d do a section and never return. With this album we’ve really tried to make our ideas more concise, and more listenable. Which is good, because progressive metal is a niche, and it’s hard to get into in the first place.”
The album took three years to complete, from the initial writing period directly after touring on Of Delight and Despair in 2017 and was inspired overall by life’s trials and tribulations: “I guess we’ve tried to take direction from those things that have happened in our lives and tried to create musical pieces around them,” Brackman says. The striking cover art is a reflection of the album’s mood and concept, while the title comes from animal behaviour.
“As far as in relation to the album, it’s all open to interpretation,” the singer explains. “The album’s called Costly Signals. That’s when, say, a gazelle sees a lion stalking it, it will do this thing where it jumps back and forth to let the lion know it can run faster, sort of like a warning or challenge, but those signals are costly, because the risk may outweigh the outcome. With the stags on the cover, it’s sort of like a young lion/old lion sort of thing. It’s very melancholic and sorrowful, but it can be hopeful too with the young stag standing next to the rock, quite triumphant. It’s that dichotomy of being sad and victorious at the same time.”
Like everyone else at this time, Dyssidia has been forced to curtail any form of live excursion to support the release. Brackman says that it’s even difficult to rehearse as a group although, “that gives you the opportunity to work on your chops by yourself and really improve!” He also points out that, when this period of enforced quarantine is over, there will be a global creative explosion that will bear some amazing fruit.
“The amount of people stuck at home creating masterpieces over the next six to twelve months is going to be absolutely brilliant. We’re going to have some really amazing music across all genres and styles pop up with in the next few years.”