Intervals – Circadian
earing the “In Time” EP by Intervals was my first encounter with the mighty, glorious phenomenon known as djent. It completely blew my mind and to this day remains one of my favourite instrumental releases of all time. What really struck me about Intervals’ first two EP’s and the album “A Voice Within” was the combination of incredibly heavy, sliced and mathematical riffage combined with epic melodies and dynamic solos and also plenty of atmospheric parts that created a truly unique vibe. Following the massive change in line-up that came afterwards, the subsequent releases didn’t satisfy me to the same extent, despite the undeniable quality of the material, as it lost a lot of its Chonk and also got somewhat more predictable and less diverse in terms of overall sound and mood. Which brings us to the most recent release, “Circadian”, and I am delighted to say that although the mood is very similar to the newer releases, the Chonk is back!
On this latest offering, our guitar hero, Aaron Marshall has prepared eight skillfully refined bangers, blending hooky melodies, engaging, groovy riffs and some serious vibin’, with the songs being similar in mood but each of them bringing its unique surprises that every guitar nerd out there will eat up in no time. The tempo here is really fast, unforgiving for the slow minds, with a very spontaneous and agile pace to each song. The drum work put on display by Nathan Bulla is seriously technical, making use of constant strumming, weird accents, occasional off-tempo beats and an overall unpredictable nature, while staying on point when it comes to groove. I think this album has a particular ability to get your head spinning before you even realize it, as the rhythm sections are so cleverly pieced together that despite the complexity, they might be some of the most infectious stuff I’ve heard this year, at least as far as instrumental music goes.
Another reason why the songs on Circadian are so instantly gratifying and banging is the powerful, clear and punchy production and the undeniably sharp, attacking sound on the guitar that you can just feel under your skin. Which puts me right on track to talk about the riffs. Aaron’s style of piecing together chugs, chords and fast guitar runs in contrasting and complementary ways with a strongly accentuated, characteristic picking style makes every riff on this record a joy to surf! And while they all pack a punch, they never get in the way of what really makes an Intervals record, the solos. Every song is teeming with lead sections, from singable, main themes to the furiously technical solos that always jaw my drop… yeah that’s right. He’s undoubtedly a master at his craft and he manages to put his solos together in such a way that he will fluently surf the various rhythm changes on the background at tremendous speeds, alternating between shredding, tapping and all the other fancy solo techniques whose names I don’t know properly. And he will do it while also bringing a lot of character and vitality to the instrument, to the point where it feels like the guitar has its own voice, speaking in moods and motion rather than words but always getting the message across, which for the most part is: ”Let’s hang, chill, have fun and be silly cos that’s what life is all about”. And just as the soul of this record really starts tuning into your heart-strings and you maybe start getting a little emotional, he will just cut that whole thing short and whack you over the head with a nasty, djenty breakdown. Unlike the general idea about a breakdown, the headbanging patterns here are often kept at the same fast and jolly tempo and even maintain the juicy sliced riffage (see ‘Signal Hill’), but lay down the artillery on drums and bass, with the alternating kicks and snare setting the striking, solid rhythm.
The bass also grants a lot of points to this record. A lot of times, when the guitar starts going places, the heaviness relies highly on the chonky bass patterns but it may also be that the guitar will lay down riffs for the bass to go bananas. Jacob Umansky‘s style fits this music like a glove on both dynamics and heaviness, being the primary instrument that gives the sound it’s thick and powerful substance. It also gets a lot of stand-out moments and is used to link different musical phrases by flashing out in between grooves when the drums cut out for a moment. This trick is also pulled off by the guitar quite often, with a flashy leak pulling off a flamboyant swirl before landing on the next bang! But the best bass moment would have to be the solo in ‘Vantablack’.
To further enhance the vibes, there is also some subtle use of keyboards/samples, most notably on the final track, ‘Earthing’ which might be one of my favourites on the album. There are also some ambiental sound effects making their way in every now and then like clapping noises and different percussive clicks and ticks and smacks and bomps. And to wrap it up, we have guest appearances. There are additional guitars provided by Joshua De La Victoria on ‘Lock & Key’ and by Marco Sfogli on ‘String Theory’ and a sassy sexy sax by Antonio Hancock aka Saxl Rose on ‘D.O.S.E’. With this final detail, “Circadian” is complete and ready to be absorbed. The last couple of Intervals albums were good, but I feel it’s on this one that he really made the new formula work. Just needed more chonk!
- 5-HTP (03:01)
- Vantablack (05:03)
- Luna[r]tic (04:09)
- Lock & Key (04:56)
- Signal Hill (03:33)
- String Theory (04:57)
- D.O.S.E (04:27)
- Earthing (05:27)