Trope is an alternative rock band with progressive elements located in Hollywood, LA featuring vocalist Diana Studenberg, Moonhead (producer/guitar), Joe Ciccia (guitar), Todd Demma (bass) and Sasha Siegel (drums). The band formed in 2016 and have spent time writing and recording demos which became their debut album `Eleutheromania` which means “a manic intensity for freedom,” and was created after lead singer Diana and Moonhead joined forces to co-create the album. Moonhead produced a foundation of progressive-style riff rock and alternative chordal structures, which Studenberg interweaved powerful lyrics and melodies, building anthemic choruses and polyrhythmic verses.
The album opens with `Lambs` a number that was written about bullying and intimidation, overcoming it, and eventually challenging the offender. The track begins quietly with some intricate almost distant guitar chords and then Diana`s dreamy vocal. A harder guitar riff joins intermittently and drums that seem to lead us along this journey. There a wonderfully heavy mid-section before edgy guitar chords and vocals take us through a more hypnotic passage before the band grind it out with a superb cacophony of controlled rock, ending abruptly. Again, we have another number in `Breach` which betrays a slight anxious feel but has some real rock out passages where the band let rip. At times, the vocals had a detached near remote texture as if being shared through a megaphone which added to the feeling of unease. A number that possibly tells of questioning a faith or a belief in someone or something.
`Hyperextended` has a nigh on stadium rock feel about it. We have all you could ask for with a repeated belting drumbeat, throbbing bass, churning guitar riffs and some crying guitar chords allowing the vocals to stretch and shine atop. A tale of moving on, maybe maturing, and finding your own path in life. There`s a cover of English pop rockers Tears for Fears mid-eighties hit `Shout`. A song that concerns protest inasmuch as it encourages people not to do things without actually questioning them. The version shared here is almost unrecognisable. It has edge and some crashing guitar chords with vocals that seem to be overlayed with dreamlike harmonies. A really interesting variation.
`Planes` is a quite ethereal imaginative piece with some eerie guitar chords that steers us through this quite mesmerising offering. I have to say I drifted off at times I was so caught up in the music. A tale again possibly of outgrowing a formative influence and not wanting to reignite that phase of your life when the influencer realises, too late, what they`ve lost. There`s almost a ballad like texture to `Plateau` which rises and falls with a real pain or near aching, longing in the vocal delivery. A narrative that seems to tell of the desire to escape the confines of a restrictive situation or place but yearning for a lover or somebody close to take that leap of faith as well but knowing that you have to leave regardless. We enjoyed some superb grinding guitar shredding and subtle gentle intricate chords as well that complemented and provided a delicate balance to this heart rending dilemma.
I thought that the formidable drumming on `Surrogate` gave it a slight tribal feel and there was a fragility in the vocal parts with looping guitar and bass leading us through this musically potent submission. A churning guitar and distant vocals lead is into `Pareidolia`. The title was new to me but is a type of complex visual illusion that was at one time thought to be related to psychosis, but it’s now generally recognized as a perfectly healthy tendency. It`s a composition that has some delightful musical intricacies along the journey. Quite breath taking at times.
`Privateer` evidently is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. It did have that sort of battle ready feel with lyrics rapidly expelled and racing guitar chords. The last minute or so had a nigh on scorching instrumental call to arms summons. The album closes out with `Seasons Change` which opens like a flower bud with layers upon layers and breathy vocals leading us along this coursing outpouring. A thoughtful reflection, reminiscing not only on divisions of the year but the years passing us by.
I have to say I really loved Trope and `Eleutheromania` is a must listen. I thought the vocals reminded me of All About Eve`s Julianne Regan and at times and the music hinted towards Alter Bridge and A Perfect Circle / Tool and to me that`s no bad thing. But notwithstanding that they have their own unique sound. The lyrics are open to interpretation which allows you to decide whatever you want to read into them, but they have a real asset with vocalist Diana Studenberg who has such a diverse vocal range and ability. But it`s with seasoned musicians such as Moonhead, Joe, Todd and Sasha putting the hard yards in that it all comes together. Trope offer a sort of post-grunge, hard rock, art rock with progressive rock aspects kind of vibe and as the title suggests there is a manic intensity for freedom within.
Rating 9.5 /10