The dilemma in which a new band sounds quite alike one of your favorite musical acts is an interesting one. It becomes impossible to not be attracted to the music, yet it is important to be aware that one's attraction towards the music is heavily due to the similarity and association to the original group. In this case, Machines of Man's musical traits parallel the style of Between the Buried and Me quite a good amount. Certainly, there are other influences shown and some unique moments as well, but the similarities become clear early on.
Band comparisons aside, this five-piece group is based out of Salt Lake City and formed in 2014. Being this record is their self-released debut LP, Machines of Man is presented with an opportunistic as well as competitive spot. The realm of modern progressive metal seems to be growing in popularity, yet the amount of proggy groups entering the market are simultaneously increasing at a rapid rate. Overall, the impact comes down to if Dreamstates can demonstrate unique and powerful music enough to surpass other up-and-coming artists.
The title track opener features an atmosphere of saxophone and sets the mood for the following heavier pieces. "Symbiosis," which features vocals emulating the death growl to clean vocal dynamics of Tommy Giles Rogers, even holds musical qualities comparable to BTBAM's recent proggy release, Coma Ecliptic, as well as their zaniness in the Colors LP via a monkey howl sample halfway through. While there is a continued sense of commonality between Machines of Man and Between the Buried and Me throughout this record, the band has a good amount of trailblazing moments expanding past the seemingly infinite limits of prog metal.
The songs that I found to be particularly representative of boldly venturing out include "Days Later" and "Cryogenesis," where vocalist Austin Bentley breaks out of his Tommy Giles Rogers imitation pigeonhole is proof that there is far more range there with hints of Good Tiger and The Contortionist shown instead. "Bones of the Sky" was easily the biggest surprise as the minimal piano instrumentation resisted the urge to go heavy by choosing to prioritize the song's melody. Last but not least, "Fractals" seems to be a perfect sum up of all that was showcased on Dreamstates. With the previously mentioned bands still woven within, they appear to come off as influences rather than ripoffs. I do think it's also important to mention that part of the reason that Dreamstates has such a strong connection to BTBAM's sound is due to the fact that the record is mixed and mastered by Jamie King. Perhaps my expectations of production aren't super high with bands' debut album, but I just have to say, the entire record sounds brilliantly crystal clear.
I approach high praise for this album with concern considering my liking for the music is due to the association to another very talented band. For now, I'll give Machines of Man a pass for their severe similarities to some of the aforementioned groups, but I am very much hoping that in future releases that they can distance themselves from comparisons by establishing their own distinct identity. As for the musical quality of Dreamstates though, this album is in a constant state of intellectual, creative wonder. This record is a must for anyone who likes a bit of intelligence and weirdness with their prog.