Album: The Way Forward
Label: Intervals Music (Independent)
Genre: Progressive Metal, Instrumental Metal
Release Date: 1st December, 2017
Metal music by its very nature is incredibly progressive. No genre has a further reaching and wonderfully unique outlook on sound with fans worldwide who are wonderfully open minded and ready to embrace all sorts of different approaches to the art (well, for the most part anyway and nobody really cares what the elitists think. The term ‘Progressive Metal’ is now used as an umbrella for a number of different sub-genres and give the artists involved a colossal amount of freedom with which to create.
The band Intervals were formed by guitarist and sole song-writer Aaron Marshall after his split from his previous band Speak Of The Devil in 2011 and served the purpose as the main outlet for his creative juices to flow. As Marshall’s vision grew the project morphed into a full-time touring band, releasing two extended plays titled ‘The Space Between’ and ‘In Time’ as well as one full length album named ‘A Voice Within’. However, with the departure of guitarist Lukas Guyader, drummer Anup Sastry and vocalist Mike Semesky prior to the release of ‘The Shape And Colour’ in 2015 the project returned briefly to a solo outfit (albeit with the aid of studio guests) and the album was released as an instrumental release to generally positive reviews. A testament to the resilience and strength of mind of Marshall.
After spending the best part of two years on the road in support of ‘The Shape And Colour’ Aaron locked himself away to create the third Intervals release which would later be titled ‘The Way Forward’. ‘The Way Forward’ opens with the track ‘Touch And Go’ (which was released with an accompanying play through video) and what becomes apparent very quickly is that this is not your by-the-numbers fret burning nonsense. The guitar tone has been meticulously chosen to balance the razor sharp edge that so many metal fans adore and the clarity that the guitar nerds (me included) need in order to hear the story that flows through the music. All too often when a guitarist is at the helm of an instrumental album the melody and direction gets sacrificed when the musician simply wants to show off how many notes he/she can play in a minute which not only comes across as messy, but lazy song writing. This is not the case here. In the middle section of the song we are treated to a clean(ish) section where Marshall shows of his tapping finger picking and sweeping abilities which is accompanied by a warm lightly distorted tone soaked in reverb before firing back into the metallic sound that dominates the rest of the track.
The song ‘Belvedere’ really stands out from the pack with its almost jazzy introduction. The lightly distorted guitar echoes away over the chilled out rhythm section. The well written guitar runs take the place of vocal melodies and give the listener a narrative to follow. The song shifts between lightly distorted to clean effortlessly and manages to maintain the upbeat and whimsical style throughout which is frankly a breath of fresh air. After all, who said that metal music can’t be light hearted and fun!? ‘Intervals’ has never been a more fitting name for a project that throughout the entirety of ‘The Way Forward’ as the seamless transitions and changes in musical direction tell the story composed by Marshall wonderfully.
The album closer ‘Leave No Stone’ turns up the Djent levels significantly. The thumping bass line and percussive strumming technique sounds crushing from the outset. This one that will get the crowd moving when Intervals hit the road in 2018 (Marshall has now armed himself with a full touring band for all of his fourth coming touring runs). The low-end, heavily guitar tone here is exquisite, if you are a fan of bands such as Animals As Leaders, Periphery and Chon then this song will be right up your street with the mind-blowingly intricate solo section in the middle of the track (seriously, if Aaron ever releases a play through video for this one be sure to check it out)
Overall I would say this album is a tremendous success and a fantastic landmark for an incredibly talented musician who has had to deal with constant line up changes and other obstacles throughout his career. This album has a little something for all types of metal fans, there are sections of Progressive Metal and Jazz as well as chilled out almost lounge sections depending on your mood at the time. I will concede the fact that it may be hard for people to listen to if they are not prepared to listen to all of the complex little details that are buried throughout this release. After all, instrumental music is not for everyone.
I would say that 2017 has been a fantastic year for metal music and as we run down the calendar in to the New Year it shows no sign of slowing up.
An excellent body of work from a very talented and creative artist.
1. Touch And Go
2. Impulsively Responsible
3. A Different Light
4. By Far And Away
6. Rubicon Artist
7. The Waterfront
8. Leave No Stone
Total Playing Time: 37:23