Dali's Dilemma Biography
Matt Guillory, keyboards; Matthew Bradley, vocals; Patrick Reyes, guitar; Steve Reyes, bass; Jeremy Colson, drums
Seldom does a progressive metal band leap to the fore with such a confident debut album as Dali's Dilemma, especially one from the climes of northern California (San Jose to be exact) where the band has honed to perfection their debut record, Manifesto For Futurism. Records of this razor-sharp bite and rapid brilliance are usually crafted in Germany or Sweden, it seems, but Dali's Dilemma manages to capture the essence of Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, and Deep Purple, swirling it all together with progressive metal flourishes.
The band is built around a solid songwriting ethic. The two brothers, guitarist Patrick and bassist Steve Reyes, met keyboardist Matt Guillory in '94, soon adding vocalist Matt Bradley and drummer Jeremy Colson to create the synergy that is this astonishingly capable prog metal maelstrom. Guillory is the band's resident rock veteran, having appeared on approximately 10 records for various artists, as well as Magna Carta's Rush tribute, the Pink Floyd tribute and the recent Magna Carta collaborative piece The Age Of Impact from The Explorers Club.
The band's strange name came about rather rapidly (as does everything with this band). Matt's uncle suggested 'Dali's Dilemma' just as the boys had to abandon, for legal reasons, their former moniker. "We needed a name really fast because Magna Carta wanted to start doing promotion," Matt recalls with a laugh. "To us, Salvador Dali was an excellent painter, a surrealist, always very experimental, unconstrained by boundaries, which ties into the type of music we're playing. We try to create without limits and come across as really expressive. The 'Dilemma' part refers more to the challenge of doing something this experimental and becoming commercially accepted. I'm sure Dali was quite appreciated but it seems he had more of a cult following, just like progressive rock and its offshoots within metal."
But for all the band's amazing musicianship, there is a discernible and distinguished hard rock current flowing beneath the mayhem. This is entirely intentional, and when pressed for influences, Matt cites the classics: old Metallica, old Rush and Pantera. On the lighter side, U2 is cited for their spiritualism and trademark sound, which can be heard on stirring ballad 'Hills Of Memory', a track underscored by a particularly Bono-esque vocal from Matt Bradley, who elsewhere evokes the passion and magnificence of a Jeff Scott Soto or a Glenn Hughes.
But make no mistake, this one's jammed full of riffs and Yngwie-inspired axe acrobatics, as evidenced by the large and looming first and last tracks on the album, entitled 'Within A Stare' and 'Living In Fear' respectively. Matt agrees: "I guess if you had to describe our music it would be very technical, very ambient; it runs the gamut. There's a wide range of styles which we all enjoy, but these two songs really hit home what we're all about: the heaviness, the progressive influence and the emotion."
Lyrically, Dali's Dilemma is also strong and versatile. In fact, Steve, Matt and Jeremy contributed solo-credited lyrics, and Patrick turned in a collaboration with Jeremy. Songs are derived from very personal sources and are not only rendered oblique enough that they can often relate directly to experiences we all have in common, but also to intense, otherworldly or fantasy realms. A rare occasion where that platitudinous "they're open to whatever interpretation someone wants to put on it" actually applies. "It's all very personal but we try to make it poetic," Matt offers with a dismissive wave of the hand.
The final touch to this well-appointed package is the Zappa-esque, and more accurately, Dali-esque artwork of graphics legend Dave McKean. Matt explains: "Dave's really well- known, and we all really like his work, so we asked him if he'd be interested in doing ours and he said yes. The cover image is a statue of a head with a kind of Salvador Dali mustache on it, with these weird arms coming out the eye sockets; very surreal and something that Dali might do. It just completes the whole concept."
All told, Manifesto For Futurism just might be the liveliest, hookiest, most rhythmically daunting pageant of prog metal since Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, Dream Theater's Images And Words, or more recently, Shadow Gallery's Tyranny. All deserve a place in the pantheon of higher musical learning of a most metallic nature. And as we mentioned, this is a first record by the newly minted first name in California-bred progressive metal... Scary.
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