Instrumental metal, or instrumetal as I like to call it, has always been an interesting category of my music collection. I’ve always had the staples, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Yngwie Malmsteen. I’ve got some of the guys that should’ve been huge like Tony MacAlpine, Stu Hamm, and Vinnie Moore. But these are all individuals expressing a vision versus a band type atmosphere. I did not start adding instrumetal bands to my collection until to the djent movement started picking up speed. One such band that caught my attention was Toronto’s Intervals. Conceived in 2011 by guitarist Aaron Marshall, Intervals brand of prog/tech instrumetal did a very good job of using the guitar melodies and solos to “replace” a vocalist. I say replace because I felt that Intervals’ music seemed to lend itself to the ability to carry a vocalist, and if it had one, could really take it to the next level. Well, Intervals and I must have been thinking the same thing. Vocalist Mike Semesky, formerly of Vestascension and The HAARP Machine, joined them toward the end of last year. The results of this new union were released in the form of “A Voice Within” on March 3, 2014.
The opening track of “A Voice Within,” ‘Ephemeral,’ feels like it was recorded specifically to showcase Semesky’s vocals, and it does. Other than the solo, Marshall’s guitar work takes a back seat to Semesky’s smooth, soaring vocals. Semesky is also an excellent bass player (it’s the reason he originally joined Intervals) and he gets to flash some of those chops along with a very dramatic vocal on ‘Moment Marauder,’ a jazzy track that shows the band going into more uncharted territory. The next few tracks, ‘Automaton’ and ‘The Self Surrender,’ bring Intervals back to what they are known for, tight, technical guitar riffs with just the right amount of spastic soloing.
After an ironic instrumental break titled “Breathe,’ Intervals gets back into it with three more vocal driven tracks, ‘The Escape,’ ‘Atlas Hour,’ and ‘Siren Sound.’ Semesky’s vocals and Marshall’s guitar playing walk hand in hand on these tracks, weaving in and out of the melody, one riding the other. “A Voice Within” ends with the title track, another jazzy tune showcasing Semesky’s bass prowess and Anup Sastry’s excellent command of his kit.
I mentioned earlier that when I first listened to Intervals, I felt there was something missing. Mike Semesky is that missing ingredient. His clean and powerful voice is the link to push Intervals to the next level. “A Voice Within” is the perfect opening to what sounds like a great new chapter in the Intervals story.