02. Moment Marauder
04. The Self Surrendered
06. The Escape
07. Atlas Hour
08. Siren Sound
09. A Voice Within
Mike Semesky – Vocals
Aaron Marshall – Guitar
Lukas Guyader – Guitar
Anup Sastry – Drums
Intervals are a four piece outfit from Toronto. In the mere three years since they formed, their reputation has rocketed to stratospheric heights- it seems these guys can do no wrong. Unless they signed to a label; the hardcore fans seem to realise this kind of move will perhaps affect the sound they produce, which is obviously very popular with the masses. So to be able to have a listen at this first, full length release from the highly regarded progressive metal bunch feels like an exciting moment indeed.
Firstly, purely based on opening track ‘Ephemeral’, a point I feel is noteworthy is: Mike Semesky’s vocals. I cannot help but feel a little like a ‘prog snob’ when I say this but…. My expectations of this band were something along the lines of, “Oh perhaps they are going to be like the next Procupine Tree… perhaps there will be a twist of Samsara Blues Experiment thrown in there, that would be cool”. Should I have not read too much into the ‘prog’ label? Because Mike sings as though he should be fronting Fall Out Boy. Next noteworthy point: those guitar riffs. Rhythmically, it reeks of every other band to come out of the US who believe themselves to be heavy; It is that typical chuggy riff that does not do the band any favour in terms of wishing to be recognised as anything ‘progressive’. At all. More like digressive, Digressing all the way back to the day when the likes of Trivium and BFMV were exploding onto the scene.
Time to hold my breath and wait for ‘Moment Marauder’ to kick in. Nope, those predictable riffs and harmonised FoB vocals are back, with the dull layering of vocals featured to include some…what, variation? I don’t think so. Yes, there are some cute time signatures on this track, and a fairly ear- pleasing, ‘Gameboy’ effect on some of the underlying riffs, but…those vocals! Why? ‘Automaton’ starts off semi- promising, but soon slips into that ‘Happy Metal’ category and causes me to have swarms of skin tight-clad Scene Kids flood my mind, two stepping and arm- flailing their way towards a petrified, pasty- faced me as I clutch my oversized cardigan tight to my chest as some sort of protection from the Plague of the Scene. Sorry, I digress. Like this band.
One good thing I can say about this album is: It makes me feel like a shoulder- grooving, dance-around-the-handbags-with-JD-and-coke-in-hand teenager again. That’s never a bad thing, surely?
‘The Self Surrendered’ has ridiculously predictable portions in the song that have been artfully created and slipped in at the most opportune moments purely for the aforementioned Scene Kid Swarms. Gotta keep them happy and provide them with ample opportunity to swing those limbs around. As long as they don’t knock my pint of Guinness out of my hand. Then there will be war, especially if it goes over my cardie. I also have an epiphany: The reason they have decided to categorise themselves under the ‘progressive’ section (to be honest, labels should not matter in the slightest, but they are there to give newcomers to bands an idea as to what they can expect to hear- as an, at times, ‘Prog Snob’ I personaly cannot allow this album to be under this category, not in my mind. Sorry) is because of the sporadically sprinkled, ‘unusual’ time signatures. It is with regret that I must inform you, chaps of intervals, this does not make you prog. I really am a snob aren’t I. Damn.
‘Breathe’ is a delicate, unimaginative little interlude which adds and offers nothing to the album. ‘Atlas Hour’ and its lyrics make me cringe. Back are those FoB vocals, riffs that chug along at a textbook pace and rhythm, and, oh yes, there it is. The vocal harmonies. I have hardly noticed the drums or bass line in this entire record, which is surprising because those are usually my main point of focus and attention before anything else, for some reason.
Is it bad that I cannot wait for this record to finish? I am starting to wonder whether I am allowing my personal tastes in music to too heavily influence my theoretically unbiased critique. However, I am purely saying it how I hear it, and I hear it as a piece of music that has gobbled up all that I and many others believe to be wrong with the metal genre, and regurgitated it. And decided to call it ‘progressive. Hmm, I’m not sure that’s how it works.
I will leave it there before I come across as a complete elitist, which I would not say I am by any stretch of the imagination. I was hoping that this would be a stunning example of a modern take of prog metal, but instead it is just…well, I think I have said all I need to, and should, say.