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When Toronto based band Intervals burst onto the scene in 2011 as an instrumental project by guitar wizard Aaron Marshall with The Space Between EP, they showed great promise. This potential was further capitalized on with the bands second release, The In Time EP, their first as a full band with Anup Sastry, Lukas Guyader and Matt De Luca. With heavy chuggy riffs and an array of polyrhythms, this EP cemented their place at the forefront of the ever-growing ‘Djent’ movement. The bands third album A Voice Within, divided many of their fans as they left the instrumental genre with vocalist Mike Semesky on the album. Recently, the band has been dismembered and Aaron Marshall has now become the instrumental act Intervals. The question is, will this new instrumental album, written by Marshall be a fresh step forward for the act, or a big step backwards?
This time, Marshall has got the help on drums from ex Periphery drummer and drummer for The Darkest Hour, Travis Orbin and Protest The Hero’s Cameron McLellan on bass. The opening track of the album, I’m Awake immediately shows that Marshall can hold his own when it comes to song writing and captures the listeners attention, with a very sporadic opening riff. The bass on this song is very complex and provides a foundation for Marshall to do his magic over, whilst also carrying the songs. Travis Orbin is exceptional on this song with rhythms that will keep you on the edge of the seat, listening intensely the entire time.
The second track of the album Sure Shot has an extremely catchy chorus, which sounds absolutely huge, this song is a little bit tamer than ‘I’m Awake’ but still extremely captivating. The third track ‘Fable’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album with beautiful, soaring melodies and well thought out basslines and drum parts which are exciting and ever changing, but written with such musicality that this high tempo is soothing to listen to. Travis Orbin’s tone and writing ability are breath taking on this entire album. What a drummer. This song Fable, has a beautiful contrast and use of dynamics in the second half of the song, in which Leland Whitty (BadBadNotGood) plays an extraordinary saxophone solo. The chemistry between Marshall, Orbin and McLellan with a virtuosic example of how to play the saxophone makes this one of the three standout moments on the album.
Sweet Tooth, the fourth track is a super jazzy song, with excellent almost duelling guitars from McLellan and Marshall, the basslines being incredibly innovative in this song. Orbins consistency for super intricate, but not overbearing drum parts are further continued here, with an ORGASMIC use of syncopation and excellent fills. The fifth track of the album Black Box is definitely the heaviest track of the album, and the only track which it almost feels like vocals are needed. However, this songs heaviness does fit perfectly in the album as a nice contrast from the extremely jazzy nature of the album.
The heaviest song on the album Slight of Hand is hands my personal favourite. This song starts quite heavy, but still maintains the beautiful, jazzy chords and lead lines. This song is a progressive rollercoaster, filled with excellent bass lines and tones, and very fitting drum parts, which aren’t as complex as the parts on songs such as ‘I’m Awake’, but still fit perfectly and keep the listener intrigued the entirety of the song. The highlight of this song, even the album in fact, comes from the second half. One of the most mature guitar players IN THE WORLD at the moment in my opinon, who has a very original tone and style Nick Johnston plays an incredibly beautiful solo. From the moment Johnston plays the guitar you can tell it is him. He displayed his incredible guitar playing with regards to tone, note choice and originality in Polyphia’s, Champagne earlier in the year, and this solo further shows his excellence. This solo is one of the best solos I have heard all year, and is my personal favourite moment on the album.
The last two songs on the album are Meridian and Libra. Meridian being almost 7 different songs in one with the amount of contrasting sections which interweave exceptionally with each other. The final song on the album, Libra is masterfully written and perfectly played, this song also is a wonderful listen over and over again. Furthermore with the contribution of highly sought after guitar virtuoso Plini working his magic with a perfect solo in this song, this provides the third perfect moment on the album. However, in contrast to the other songs of the album, this song does not have the same stand out factor. This being said, Libra is still a great track.
So, does this Intervals album provide a breath of fresh air or five steps backward for the progressive community? This album is a breath of fresh air, and definitely one of the best releases in the prog genre for 2015! If you are looking for the heavy djent of previous Intervals releases, you will not find it here. This album is a jazz fusion record, with progressive metal elements prominent throughout. This makes it greatly similar to the likes of Chon, Plini and Polyphia. If you are a die hard, chug djent fan, you will probably not like this album. However, if you appreciate and love listening to exceptionally well written music, with beautiful chords and expressive solos, you will love this album. This album is one of my personal favourite releases of 2015 and proves that Marshall can definitely hold his own.
8.5/10 – Exceptionally well written, technically brilliant album