Best New Music: Intervals + Leland Whitty – Fable

Intervals are a progressive metal band from Canada. The term ‘band’ however is a loose one, with the recent departures of Anup Sustry (drums) and Lukas Guyader (Guitar), the only official member left is Aaron Marshall. Although Marshall formed the band, and had previously masterminded other Intervals work, the direction in which the new material would take was questionable.

Intervals have previously brought out two instrumental EPs, The Space Between (2011) and In Time (2012), before releasing their debut album A Voice Within (2014). This album, however, was different to previous work in that they recruited a singer, much to some fans’ dismay and others’ pleasure. Personally, I was one of the former, I love the way Marshall’s guitar-work simulates the vocalist and can bring so much more to the party harmonically to create that signature Intervals sound.

The new album The Shape Of Colour is due out on December 4, with two singles already released. The first was “I’m Awake” which, much to my enjoyment, was entirely instrumental, and drew comparisons back to my favourite Intervals EP – In Time. The second, another instrumental which I enjoyed even more than the first, “Fable“.

“Fable” begins as if in the distance. The heavy reverb on the drums and guitar keep them in the background, with EQ seeming to be cutting the lows, keeping the texture thin. The resulting effect is that you feel you’re listening to the track on an ‘Old Radio’. As it drifts into the foreground and kicks off, we get the full Intervals sound with Aaron Marshall riffing over a 5/4 groove.

Given the progressive nature of the track, we can’t distinctly lay out a particular structure, but I will use standard structural terms as to not complicate things. This beginning riff we will come to know as a ‘chorus’ of sorts, as Marshall refers back to it throughout the track. He told TeamRock in reference to the riff, “the main theme almost feels like you could picture a flute or even bagpipes playing it“.

After this, we move on to a ‘verse’, as Marshall takes us on a journey around his fretboard. He alluded to this journey in the interview, stating, “the song is also a perpetual exploration and juxtaposition of two varying time feels, which sort of creates a journey“. We hear all the great guitar tones that are synonymous with the Intervals sound in this track, this particular section using a bright, ambient tone that crisply cuts through the mix. The track then turns back to the ‘chorus’ riff, after which we are presented with a harsh semi-tone clash, a common characteristic of Marshall’s phrasing.

We then find the involvement of saxophonist Leland Whitty, best known for his work with BADBADNOTGOOD. Marshall stated on Whitty’s involvement, “when the bridge began to shape up, I knew I wanted to feature another instrument – and I’d been looking for an opportunity to feature saxophone for some time. Leland seerved the tune perfectly and said exactly what needed to be said in the piece“.

The texture thins, and an ambient sax solo begins. The timbre of the woodwind instrument works excellently with that of the drums, bass and guitar behind it, all seemingly complimenting each other as Whitty explores the harmony. The emphasis on this section is not only built around the saxophone but also the drums. More spaces are left, with syncopated fills keeping the listener interested as the tight rhythm is loosened. A scale run more associated with Jazz, Funk or Fusion music rather than progressive metal brings us back into the fast paced, full textured track that we recognise from before the solo. Marshall reprises the familiar ‘chorus’ theme to bring “Fable” to a close.

Overall I absolutely loved “Fable” – from start to finish, it brought with it all that I look forward to hearing in an Intervals track, with a saxophone solo on top of that! Intervals have taken a step back to their instrumental routes, but, in the case of “Fable”, kept the metal element to a minimum. The intense chord chugging was scarce in this track, a technique that featured heavily in previous work. “Fable” and “I’m Awake” remind me of lighter progressive instrumental bands such as CHON – but this is certainly not a bad thing!

I was uncertain about the new material prior to hearing it, but after listening to both “Fable” and “I’m Awake”, I’ll be waiting eagerly awaiting the release of The Shape Of Colour on December 4. You can pre-order the album on iTunes here.

Words by William Kitchener

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