The Stranger: Progressive Metal From the Down Under
Written by Cindy Chittenden
In 2013, after years of playing together in Alpine Vault, Kalen Austin and Daniel O’Brien needed something fresh. Looking to challenge themselves, the Brisbane natives formed progressive metal outfit, The Stranger.Progressive metal is a blend of loud aggression, powerful melodies and, oftentimes, an experimental twist. While the genre emerged in the 1980’s, it wasn’t until the 1990’s when progressive metal achieved commercial success. Now in 2017, Australia’s own The Stranger has driven this genre into increased popularity and stands with an unshakable presence.
“Alpine Vault, while being a band that we were very proud of, and will always hold a special place in our hearts. What we really wanted for this new band, was the freedom to be able to explore any genre, any sound influence, and having a lineup that could help us achieve this.” Austin states.
Inspired by an interesting mix of bands from a variety of genres including Opeth, Periphery, Keith Urban, Enya, Meshuggah, Bob Dylan and The Dillinger Escape Plan, there is no pinpointing their sound.
With their experimental style developing, the band had planned the first album as concept album set in the old west. The story would follow a dark Clint Eastwood-type cowboy figure as he tracked down the father that had abandoned him at a young age with the events leading up the eventual confrontation/standoff. This cowboy character was always referred to just as The Stranger. And though he band ended up scrapping the concept, the character became the band’s name.
Putting the first album on hold, the band focused on solidifying their lineup. As of this writing the band’s lineup consists of Tom Frayne on vocals, Brendon Blanchard on bass, Kalen Austin on guitar, Daniel O’brien on drums and a new guitarist that will shortly be announced on Facebook.
“We all get along really well, and there’s basically no drama to speak of among us,” says Austin.
Working on the self-titled album scheduled to come out in 2017, the band is extremely proud of their achievements. Their latest single ‘Divine Intervention,’ which is track eight off their upcoming album, is available at all major online outlets.
“We are all perfectionists in our own way, so making sure we had exactly the right takes, exactly the right tones, and the right people to help us with our musical vision wasn’t easy. But we were lucky enough to work with some very talented people along the way,” says Austin.
One of the most notable features of the album was the production work of Adam Merker from Studio Anderz Debeerz in Brisbane.
“That guy simply will not let you stop until you’ve got just the right take, and knows how to get the best out of you, so that was awesome,” says Austin.
Aside from Merker, the album was mixed by David Castillo and mastered by Jens Bogren, both of Fascination Street, a Swedish studio known for its work with metal icons Amon Amarth, Opeth, Kreator and At the Gates.
“We had to go with the master himself, who’s probably worked with every major act you have heard of,” says Austin of Bogren thanks to his incredible reputation.
In recent months, The Stranger has shared the stage with Caligulas Horse, Ne Obliviscaris and The Ocean. Recently, the progressive metallers were chosen to support German power metal legends Helloween on their recent Australian tour, greatly increasing the reputation.
Hard charging with a year focused on expansion, The Stranger isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Keep a look out for the self titled album, several new videos to follow and a full tour that is promised to be filled with energy. The Stranger is a force to be reckoned with.