I’m more of a modern prog dude. Not that I have anything against the classic ’70s era of progressive rock, but aside from a few notable bands, led by the obvious Pink Floyd, I simply haven’t been exposed to a lot of it, despite being a big fan of ’60s and ’70s music, in general. Yeah, I know, it’s something I need to rectify. Luckily, modern prog of the rock and metal variety offers an embarrassment of riches to indulge in. 2017 has thrown down plenty of gems, including powerhouse Aussie prog opuses from Voyager and Caligula’s Horse, and the return of melancholy masters Soen with their excellent Lykaia album. One album that seemed to pass by with minimal fuss or recognition was the debut full length from Tetrafusion, a talented outfit featuring the rhythm section from Scale the Summit.
Dreaming of Sleep is an engaging progressive metal album, representing a lot of what’s good about the modern prog scene. A noodly, complex and ambitious affair, Dreaming of Sleep rarely loses itself in a fluffy space of self-indulgence, the songwriting remains grounded by memorable hooks and a touch of restraint. And just when you think it may be sounding too safe and polished, the band hit you with a chunky, grittier riff or fat groove to keep things honest. As expected the musicianship is outstanding, and the top notch production offers space and balance for each member to shine through complex rhythms, intricate and rippling guitar work, and prominent but tasteful use of keyboards. Mark Michell’s exceptional bass work adds an extra layer of nuance and character to the compositions, often stealing the limelight within deeply textured and intricate arrangements.
Vocals in modern prog can often be a deal breaker for many listeners, but the smooth and assured melodic tones from Gary Tubbs have an understated and emotive power that do the job nicely without straying into cheesy melodrama. He knows his way around a poppy vocal hook or soaring vocal line, a feature used to great effect throughout the album. “Echo Chamber” swiftly balances complexity and melody, with pop hooks, heavier riffage, and upbeat grooves. Highlight “10,001” drops a monster opening riff as staggering rhythms mesmerize underneath. Tetrafusion’s unique gift of blending pop hooks and spacey textures with harder hitting riffage makes for a compelling combination and their ability to write busy but digestible prog nuggets work advantageously. However, the 10 minute “Sisyphus” shows Tetrafusion’s ability to string together a winding and soulful prog epic with impressive results. Tetrafusion skillfully navigate moody waters, flipping through bright and energetic tones, to ethereal passages, and darker bouts of melancholy.
The beautiful psych-prog of “Vestige” leads into closer “Perfect Silence,” a jazz-infected prog epic featuring some startling moments and stunning musicianship, even though it goes a little overboard with the noodling jam session. Otherwise, Tetrafusion sustain interest and focus comfortably, hitting the mark far more often than not. The excellent production job consolidates the album’s strengths, sounding robust, balanced and crystal clear, yet blessed with the right amount of sonic roughage.
Tetrafusion punch well above their modest profile, delivering a finely crafted progressive metal album with jazz, alt-rock and post-metal undertones that holds its own among the other prog highlights of 2017. Self-released and available as a ludicrous Name Your Price option on Tetrafusion’s Bandcamp page, there’s no excuse for prog fans not to check this out.
Tracks to Check out: “10,001,” “Sisyphus,” “The Void”