Progressive Metal Album Spotlight: When The Skies Are Grey by A Dying Planet

When The Skies Are Grey is the sophomore album by progressive metal newcomers A Dying Planet. The creative force behind the band is guitarist Jasun Tipton.  Tipton is known for his incredible work with the progressive metal bands Zero Hour, Abnormal Thought Patterns and Cynthesis.   Tipton serves as the band’s songwriter as well as providing the guitars and keyboards.  A Dying Planet is rounded out by Paul Adrian Villarreal on vocals, Brian Hart  on bass and Marco Bicca on drums.  Tipton has wisely surrounded himself with incredibly talented bandmates.  Beyond being highly skilled musicians, more importantly they are team players.  This is an important element for A Dying Planet.  Each member plays an equal role in the overall success of the band’s music. 

Understatement and restraint are not the first words that come to mind when describing the genre of progressive metal.  These words along with atmospheric and textural aptly apply to the music of A Dying Planet.  This up and coming band offers a melodic take on progressive metal that combines the sounds of progressive rock, post metal, djent and classic rock.     

The six songs featured on When The Skies Are Grey are highly melodic.  The pace of the music is deliberately restrained.  The songs take their time to build and unfold.  The arrangement of each track allows for a great deal of space.  With the music of A Dying Planet there is no need to fill up every space with notes and chords.  Each song has the opportunity to breath.  Each instrument is clearly heard as the band play their individual parts, supporting the whole of the song. There is more than enough talent within the band to create epic, highly technical progressive metal licks and riffs.  That is not the mission statement of A Dying Planet.  The band members apply their talents and utilize understatement and restraint to create drama within the music.  They veer away from creating highly complex and super technical chord progressions. Instead the band strives for atmosphere and texture.  Instead of speed and volume the band strives for dynamics.  Clean, shimmering arpeggios are offset by thick, sustained chords. The music opts for repetition over complexity.  That repetition creates a mood that draws the listener into the music. 

Brian Hart and Marco Bicca lay down tight rhythm tracks as a foundation.  Jasun Tipton builds upon that solid foundation adding clean arpeggios, strummed acoustic guitar passages,  heavy distorted chords and textured riffs. He also adds subtle keyboards to heighten the sense of mystery and drama.  The soling is held to short, melody passages.  The album’s biggest solo is provided by guest musician Derek Sherinian.  The band allows him to cut loose on an extended keyboard solo on one song. Throughout the album  the band take their time building each song, setting the stage for Paul Adrian Villarreal’s immaculate vocals.  Villarreal is a pure singer with an effortless vocal deliver.  He possesses a voice that would not be out of place on a classic rock or AOR album. The band gives him plenty of space in the mix to deliver pleasing vocal melodies and to build wonderful vocal harmonies.  A Dying Planet is a modern metal band, but the vocal approach harkens back to a different era.  Villarreal  delivers passionate vocals without a trace of screaming, wailing, belting, grunting or screeching. This atypical progressive metal vocal approach gives the music a point of difference and a breath of fresh air.

The pace of the music may seem laid-back at times, but the passion and aggression is there when it needs to be.  The clean guitars, mixed with the highly melodic vocals, are dynamically opposed by the heavy, repetitive chord progressions and textural riffs.  The band downplays displays of virtuosity, but each member expertly plays their part with restraint.  Each member skillfully plays their instrument, allowing room for the other.  The musical pieces come together like a jigsaw puzzle. The end result  is a multi-layered aural experience that will reward attentive listeners.  When The Skies Are Grey is another winning album for A Dying Planet and for Jasun Tipton. Check out A Dying Planet’s Bandcamp page to hear their music.     

Troy T.

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