Monday, January 16, 2012

Intervals - The Space Between (EP) (2011)

There is always a style of music on the rise, a trend that many will pounce on and take it for all it's worth. Case in point, the current derivative of Messhugah's signature style, also known as "djent." And while many have throw their name into the ring, Toronto based Intervals are the latest to ride the wave of sheer terror into the abyss. On their new five track EP, titled "The Space Between," they shuffle their feet all the way to the edge of the cliff, teetering on the brink of disaster. Yet somehow, they escape to fight another day.

We begin with the opening track, "Begin." Guess that makes sense. A low rumble gives way to a very synthetic set of tones, very futuristic in nature. Drums explode from underneath, and a chugging guitar bursts onto the scene. The chords are repetitive, but thankfully short, as electronic bits come in and out, taking this brief opener to a close. The real talent is showcased on "Still Winning," which may or may not be a nod to the ever popular Charlie Sheen. The sheer density of the rhythm guitars, along with a booming rhythm section, is almost too much to bear. But the dazzling fret work still manages to come through with the utmost clarity and effectiveness. The syncopated beats and heavy riffs are straight out of the Meshuggah playbook, though not quite as deftly played.

"Duality" expresses exactly that, a duo of styles and deliveries. On one hand, you have that which has been shown already, a desire to combine hard nosed metal riffs with virtuosic soloing, a match that can spell success or disaster. Let's face it, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. And there examples of both outcomes contained here. The portion surrounding the three minute mark is genius at work, with a great flow being exhibited along with the ability to play loud and fast. The segment that immediately follows is a miss, coming off like a muddled mess, rather than a cohesive breakdown. The same can be said for the following track, "Sonar." The use of synthesizers cuts through the chunky mass of distorted guitars and bass. But as the tempo slows, and melody comes together, you are greeting with much more than a muscle car. The bass line is epic, and the guitars come together into a harmony of sorts.

The album cruises to a conclusion with it's longest track, the nearly seven minute "Inertia." The appearance of some clean guitar will instantly make this song stand out in your mind. The groove on display in the early stages is encouraging, showing off a side of the band you may not have known existed. It isn't long before the ceiling comes crashing down, and echoing distortion reigns supreme once again. A small electronica break gives way to the more down tempo chugging. But the high pitch shriek of guitar that rolls over the top is just enough to keep the pieces together.

There is a conflict to be settled on these five tracks. Intervals clearly have all of the talent and skill to write solid instrumental metal tracks. But the real question is whether they can continue to make music that is a reflection of who they are, without sacrificing structure and form. Following the djent trend is going to work for some, and fail for others. But great guitar work is universally accepted. Maybe this band needs a little more of that Van Halen sensbility, and a little less Messhugah thrash. "The Space Between" may prove to be too much.


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