Back in my high school years, I listened almost exclusively to alternative rock and metal. After finding progressive music, I fell out of love with it for a couple years, only to embrace it again later. What I craved, though, is a band that can combine both of those genres into something arresting and engaging. Trope’s debut album “Eleutheromania” does exactly that, and does it really, really well. The new album releases in March of 2020, but you can preorder it right now through the links below.
Trope hails from Hollywood: yes, that Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA. They seem to have connections to various well-known producers and music industry icons, and so the music here is tightly mixed and immaculately produced. The band right now consists of vocalist Diana Studenberg and guitarist Dave Thompson.
Trope plays alternative rock/metal that seriously flirts with progressive rock. There are moments where I would call them a full-fledged prog rock band, and other times where they seem firmly planted in the alternative genre. One thing that you will note immediately is that they are seemingly influenced by A Perfect Circle, especially in the melodies and eerie oddity of some of the songs. You will also notice plenty of Tool influence in the guitar licks and riffing, especially on tracks like “Breach” and “Surrogate”. They have a good level of soul to what they offer, as well, so the band certainly knows how to write an enjoyable and satisfying song.
One thing that I hear, and maybe this is a stretch, is that Diana sounds quite a bit like a female Brent Smith (Shinedown), or at least sings in the style, while sporting a personality and higher vocal range that sounds like Amy Lee (Evanescence). Combining this strong voice with the powerful guitars and winding instrumentals, and you have an progressive alternative package that plays to its own strengths really well. Again and again, I was impressed by the band’s ability to break into major new musical threads in the middle of the song, while also being able to play more ambiently and thoughtfully in other sections.
When it comes to the songs (and this album is all about songs), there are several amazing ones here. I have to get the elephant out of the room first, though. There is a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Shout” in the tracklist. Now, here’s the thing: I hate covers. I almost always despise them, with a few notable exceptions. However, I really do think this will make my list of exceptions, because this alternative, darker, and riffier take on “Shout” is actually great! It feels quite organic, unlike many covers, and the band changes up the song significantly to the point that it often seems like an entirely new song. Two thumbs up on this cover!
That said, here are some of my favorites. First, I really like the single “Lambs”. It has soul and restraint to it, but launches itself into the real rocking moments, too. This is a great first song to hear from the band. I also really like “Breach” with its addictive chorus, but the unsung hero of the song might be the gritty rhythm guitar that really sucks you into the music.
I also really like “Planes” with its low-key verses, but massive chorus. It’s one of those songs that flies under the radar at first, but then you notice it more and more as you hear the album multiple times. I’m also a fan of “Seasons Change”, with a guitar rhythm that seriously reminds me of Australia’s Dead Letter Circus, plus a restrained chorus that evokes the somber and appropriate emotions for the song. “Plateau” happens to be my favorite song on the album, though. It is edgy and commanding, and the chorus is fantastic. Diana hits and sustains a note near the end that is so impressive, too.
In the end, “Eleutheromania” does exactly what I hoped. It gives me warm nostalgic vibes from all the callbacks to the alternative rock/metal of the late 90s and early 00s, but also explores new territory, essentially moving the music of my youth forward to new ideas and different tones. This is one rocking record, one that I know I will listen to quite a bit in the future.