Let’s start this review by talking about what I now refer to as my “Northeast Pipeline”. This was a deluge of unbelievable bands all from the Northeastern part of Canada and the US. It all started way back when I first began her at Lady Obscure, with one of my first reviews, a Canadian band I stumbled upon called Mandroid Echostar. They led me to Boston based The DEADSTATION, and by rifling through their list of “liked” bands, I discovered the New York band Ever Forthright and the band we’ll be looking at today, Canadian product Intervals. When I first checked out Intervals, they had just released their second of two EP’s, In Time. This record, and its predecessor, The Space Between, were both shockingly brilliant deluges of intricate instrumental progressive metal. I was truly stunned. Time got away, and I never got around to reviewing them(both would have scored four stars at least). This time I got some serious advance notice, and made a personal commitment to right my wrongs, but Intervals decided to throw me, and their fans, a huge curve ball. They added a vocalist.
The Intervals line up consist of guitarist Aaron Marshall, guitarist Lukas Guyader, drummer Anup Sastry, and bassist Mike Semesky. Though they put out feelers for a vocalist while touring The Space Between, the only “right” chemistry they could find was in their own house. Not to worry folks, they didn’t settle at all, in fact, they took their distinctive brand of instrumental progressive metal, and with the added instrument of vocals, dropped an album that is surely to be warping many minds in the year to come. Now let’s take a closer look at this monster release….
A Voice Within starts off with the first released single, Ephemeral. Needless to say the sudden addition of a vocalist was quite a shock to the fans, in both good and bad ways based on the reactions. I was in the “hell to the yes” camp. The song has a deep base in the d’jent sound, the deep bass and the steroid ripped chords digging into the ear canals. The vocals smoothly slide into what is, after hearing the rest of the album, a fairly safe song for release as a single. You see folks, Intervals takes off from here that magical land of What the Hell Did I Just Listen To that only albums of true brilliance are capable of taking me. The second track Moment Marauder, though opening with a smidgen of the heavy, drops right into a smooth and sexy groove that serves as its base camp. It’s the first of many divergences from their standard that make the album such a delight. Though they kick up the intensity of the song, that smoothness still remains throughout, especially in the second instrumental part where Marshal just rips it up, leading back into smooth and sexy with a jazzy segment that is carried by the bass and highlighted by keys and guitar. They transition throughout the beastly complex song with an almost practiced ease. And that’s just song two folks, there are many more surprises in store.
One track that really floored me was the eight minute The Self Surrendered. The song is initially highlighted by some furious rapid fire chords that effectively, when played loud enough, will rewire the heartbeat, making the listener a mere puppet with the band in control. Then they take you on a ride, a seriously kick ass ride. Semesky’s vocals are more than up to the task, he has a tremendous amount of passion that he pours into his words, and carries the range of the music more than amicably. As I said, it slides right in, like it was always meant to be there. The song is an aural rollercoaster, relentless and unforgiving. It’s eight minutes of awesome. It goes from there into Breathe, which is literally that, a two minute atmospheric break before heralding forth into yet more adventurous territory.
Four more solid tracks round out the album. The Escape opens up in full attack mode before dropping the pace for a brief yet delightful atmospheric section, filled with heart and feeling, only to finish in a melodic fury. Atlas Hour is another beast song, the hard chords pairing with the much more melodic back tones just perfectly. It finishes with a four minute build up segment, one of those things I just love about prog music. The same basic melody over and over, yet the intensity of it builds and builds, drawing you in deeper and deeper. Siren Sound is a pure monster, never letting up with its relentlessly maddening pace. The title track, A Voice Within, has a bit more of an epic feel to it, though a relatively shorter track. I think the vocal work on top of the intense instrumentation gives it that, especially with the lyrical elements rising up to match the power of Semesky’s voice.
In short, Intervals nails it beginning to end. This is an album that is sure to draw listeners from a wide variety of subgenres, since so many different influences go into it, and are melded with a sure hand. For this reviewer at least, the addition of the vocalist was a brilliant choice, and though no ordinary singer would have worked, Semesky is a perfect fit for what the band delivers best, a technically sound and brilliantly executed onslaught of progressive metal.