The Dali Thundering Concept is one of those acts that has been able to capture our attention this year between all the European modern progressive metal proposals. Even between all the insanely good bands their home country France has delivered recently in the genre.
Their debut full length “Eyes Wide Opium" is meant to be an experience first and foremost. It's a musical journey capable of blending well-defined atmosphere and great songwriting. And it manages to deliver an explicitly political message through its intelligent lyrics.
The intro track “Prolegomena” introduces us with what could be considered wake up call, followed by possibly the heaviest song on the entire package – “White Rabbit”. This is another song clearly built to invite the listener along for the journey, as you may be able to deduce from the Wonderland reference in the title. The surreal atmosphere, which will soon be revealed as this album's trademark, is still hard to detect here just before it kicks in hard with track 3 “Damocles”. This starts out as another really heavy tune, but it features interludes and various refined guitar passages essentially lifting the listener in this surreal soundscape. It's explicitly evoked in some passages and only faint, even barely perceivable in others. But the approach is still strongly present and prominent in the album's vibe.
You can perfectly feel the balance this band creates between mathcore and an accessible djent groove. Track 4 “Mesmer Eyes” enforces these elements with an enhanced djent attack, while empowering the psychedelic twist with melodic choirs. One of the things I liked the most about this album is that they managed to make the interludes and the intro song actually have purpose and direction. The intro “Prolegomena”, the 5th track “Sons Of Crisis” and the 8th “Father of Fury” are really original as they form an integral part to the album concept lyrically. They also lend a huge contribution to the manifestation of the surreal atmosphere I told you about. The album interludes are actually interesting on "Eyes Wide Opium" in that they don't necessarily make the listener want to skip over them. They're not just there randomly to increase the tracklist number. They actually mean something in the grand scheme of the music.
Between these interludes, you'll find the best 2 songs on the album in my opinion. “Bread, Games, and Narcolepsy” keeps up the surreal vibe with intelligent guitar work as it unleashes fast and catchy djent riffage on your eardrums. Out of the entire album, it's one of the songs that will grow on you most easily. "Phoenix”, on the other hand, is the song you've already heard (if you already know this band). It's definitely the best representative of this album's overall sound. And the guest appearance from Molotov Solution's vocalist Nick Arthur couldn't be more appropriate.
The surreal atmospheres grow and reach their apex on “Burdened by the Hand”. This particular track provides a long instrumental section. This is followed by “Behind the Fur”, which manages to be one of the craziest tracks on the album, but also one of the most melodic in some passages. The album ends with the second single “Beyond Mirrors” with the brightest soundscapes on the album, elevating to pure atmosphere, thanks to the Ashe O'Hara (ex-TesseracT) appearance. This is also thanks to the final, dramatic monologue revealing this intense experience for what it has actually been, a call to open our eyes.
It definitely works amazingly as an overall experience, but the only thing this band needs to do is to add that final hook to get the tunes stuck in the mind of the listener. I mean, listening to this album actually hits you really hard. It's actually a shocking experience, giving you something to focus on both artistically and personally. And that's something truly amazing. But you may realize that just a couple of tunes actually broke through tp you, and they also hardly did. This is the only step that separates this band from the big names of Europe's modern progressive metal.
“Eyes Wide Opium” proves that The Dali Thundering Concept's unique style is strong with a great possibility of added growth in the future. This is especially thanks to the intelligent songwriting it features and, lyrically, it has shown a level of awareness which is rarely found in modern metal. This is certainly a band to look at in the future and this is an album you should live by, not just listen to.