There are certain sounds and smells that instantly generate feelings of nostalgia in the human mind. Nostalgia is itself an obscure and hard to define feeling or sense, being based on both human memory and experience, along with a preternatural sense of déjà vu, of belonging, and that strange tugging sensation of wanting to revel in times long past. Instrumental metal act INTERVALS seem to be masters of generating a sense of wanting, a positively joyous lingering sensation of summer at the back of one’s mind. 2015’s The Shape of Colour was perhaps the most obnoxiously catchy metal album of its year, and clear INTERVALS are going two for two with their new offering, The Way Forward.
There are few bands that ooze the levels of positivity captured between the sifting and sliding melodies of guitarist Aaron Marshall, the listener’s guide through an onslaught of upbeat instrumental fun. Indeed, this is an album that exists for the love of guitar and good rhythms. Aaron Marshall‘s performance is of course absolutely stellar. By this point, after providing rhythm guitar duties for the likes of PLINI, Marshall‘s experience and expertise in the new progressive metal scene is perhaps bar none but the likes of PERIPHERY. His style has evolved into something so truly his own that The Way Forward ironically seems like a trip to the past, as his melodic style has become so distinctive and natural that the album seems an entirely seamless extension of The Shape of Colour.
This, of course, leads to one of the major criticisms that could be levelled against the record. Considering it sits well within the confines of progressive metal, The Way Forward seems relatively uninventive. True, it does seem a natural progression of the previous record, however, there is no boldness. There is no bravery. There is no risk. And if there is anything one should be prepared for in modern progressive metal, it is risk.
The Way Forward is a truly impressive production effort. The album’s drums and punchy low end make it a real pleasure to listen to. Every instrument has its own place within the mix, all centring on the snare, and the lead tone. The tetrad of engineering, production, and mastering genius that is Cameron McLellan, Aaron Marshall, Simon Grove, and Ermin Hamidovic truly deserves praise for the efforts involved in bringing this record to life.
The Way Forward is a joy to listen to. It conjures and evokes feelings and emotions of pleasant memories long past, of fun and simplicity. It is an excellent instrumental record, if one simply seeks vibrant melodies and upbeat rhythms. However, there is no challenge. There is no conflict to the music. There is no push to something new. And as such, it ultimately may not be a particularly memorable record. It evokes much in the way of pleasant memories, but one may not remember this album in the years to come.
The Way Forward is set for release on December 1st via Intervals Music.
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