The Shape Of Colour review by Intervals

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  • Released: Dec 4, 2015
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 8.2 (39 votes)
Intervals: The Shape Of Colour
1

Sound — 7
Both inspired by the brainy side of the metal spectrum and contemporary metal guitar virtuosos like John Petrucci and Ben Weinman, Aaron Marshall started the prog metal project Intervals all by his lonesome. But after his Dillinger Escape Plan-influenced debut EP, 2011's "The Space Between," made a big splash, Marshall not only saw the need to continue, but to expand. Along with releasing his well-lauded follow-up EP, "In Time," a year later, 2012 would also have Intervals turning into an almost full lineup, taking their vocal-less prog metal on tours with like-minded bands such as The Contortionist, Protest The Hero, and prog metal champions Between The Buried And Me. Marshall would finally get his vocalist wish granted shortly after, where bassist Mike Semesky took the call of duty for that role, resulting in the band's debut album, "A Voice Within," being their most fully-realized work yet.

Marshall's ideal for Intervals to be a complete prog metal lineup wouldn't last for long, though, and after touring in support of "A Voice Within," all other members of the band split up, leaving Marshall alone again. But without losing a beat, Marshall promptly returns with Intervals' follow-up album to last year's debut, entitled "The Shape of Colour," and akin to the project shedding its skin back down to its sole proprietor, the songwriting is substantially different to "A Voice Within." Fanning out from the stark driving prog metal mentality of his early instrumental releases, there's more space and gloss to be heard, found in the reverbed background of "Libra," the smoother sections of "Sure Shot" and "Meridian," and the jangly likes of "Sweet Tooth" that nearly sounds inspired by early Dir En Grey.

Marshall's main influence to be heard in "The Shape of Colour," however, is a jazzier one. This is most obviously manifested in "Fable" (which includes a saxophone solo, courtesy of Leland Whitty), but that influence is also what tones down Marshall's lead guitar-work, which, with no vocalist in the picture, is what speaks the loudest on the album. It's in effort to cover a more dynamic range of performance, but it's hard not to feel underwhelmed if the listener compares the album with Intervals' earlier work - not even the fits of fretwork heard in the heavier likes of "I'm Awake" and "Sure Shot" really hold a candle to his rabidly frantic solo work heard in his early EPs. And with Marshall also bringing on guest solo performances by next-gen virtuoso friends Nick Johnston (in "Slight of Hand") and Plini (in "Libra"), those guest performances arguably steal the spotlight from Marshall's own album.

While the guitar aspect of "The Shape of Colour" may be framed in ambivalence, the rhythm section does hold strong. With Marshall recruiting Sky Eats Airplane's drummer Travis Orbin and Protest The Hero's new bassist Cameron McLelland to take care of rhythm duties, Orbin's drum-work oftentimes stays at high-energy activity without hogging the spotlight (see "Black Box"), and McLelland not only follows Marshall's lead lines nicely, but also throws in some peppy slap-bass parts in "Sweet Tooth" and "Meridian" to spice things up.

Lyrics — 8
[There are no lyrics on this album].

Overall Impression — 7
For all intents and purposes, "The Shape of Colour" is Marshall rolling with the punches of old ideals of Intervals falling through and moving towards new goals. While one can argue that album's lack of vocal elements make it a step down from the full band experience given in "A Voice Within" just as easily as one can argue that Marshall can still compose instrumental music swimmingly, the argument regarding how Marshall went about the style and intensity of the album is a bit more unequivocal. Though Marshall's less aggressive songwriting is a way to move forward instead of in circles by repeating what he already knows, one can't help but miss the fact that "The Shape of Colour" doesn't give as much of an instrumental onslaught as glorious as his earlier material.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Angelicc
    How exactly does a band with no lyrics get an 8/10 for lyrics?
    travislausch
    We'll never know because the reviewer never elaborated, but since leaving out lyrics was a conscious choice on the band's part, perhaps the rating could have something to do with making that choice.
    milesak
    Likely just so it didn't drag down the overall rating of the album. He thinks the album deserves an 8 so gives the lyrics just that.
    Dnouw
    Easy, the reviewer is a fan, not a professional. Next question with an obvious answer?
    Radzilla7
    Song titles maybe? Instrumental albums should get a pass on lyrics and just be rated by sound.
    Erowz
    "doesn't give as much of an instrumental onslaught as glorious as his earlier material". what? from the first second of "Im Awake" the album slays like hell. this release is far more instrumentally impressive than any other release and by far the most complex and interesting and at the same time super fun to listen to. i think its a fucking great album one of my favorite of 2015. deserves an overall of 9 in my opinion. and btw on what did you base the scoring about the lyrics on an album with no lyrics?
    LightxGrenade
    I have to disagree with this being a step back. The way I took it was that this was a totally different direction from his previous works. It's still plenty technical even if it the music seems more relaxed and even "happier". It certainly doesn't have any djent influences but I actually like that. He's had plenty of songs that sound like that so I'm fine with and I am actually happy he has a more rock and jazz element going on in this album. Basically, I just think that a step back and going in a different direction are two totally different things. If he did the same thing as the last few albums but it didn't sound as good, that would be a step back. I feel like this is just a progression in his musical interests and what he wants to play. All that being said, I totally understand that some people were hoping for a more aggressive style. If you need a nice aggressive instrumental fix, check out John Browne's (Monuments) instrumental album Qatsi, it's pretty bitching.
    shunks
    This album is beautiul, it's definitely my favorite of theirs.
    travislausch
    I'm actually really sad to say I mostly agree with the reviewer. On first listen, I wasn't completely blown away. I guess I was expecting more, but a lot of the songs kind of sound very same-y. I'm sure it'll grow on me after a few more listens, though. Aaron Marshall is still one of my favourite guitarists out there right now. It impresses me that he actually did this album on entirely standard-tuned 6-strings instead of 7s in drop Ab and 6s in drop C. And his playing's still got style and taste, something very lacking among lead guitarists nowadays. But the actual music, the songs themselves, kind of underwhelmed me.
    travislausch
    Update: a couple more listens in, I'm starting to dig it more and more. His guitar tone is still buttery as fuck, even if the music isn't really doing much for me, and the production is actually pretty good. And as far as instrumental jazz/prog-metal hybrids go, this is pretty damn good stuff.
    bakaaah
    I like this album, but IMHO this album is a step back. I can totally agree to the reviewers opinion.
    Augie1995
    My question is where you got your information about "Marshall would finally get his vocalist wish granted shortly after, where bassist Mike Semesky took the call of duty for that role,[...]" I can tell you for a fact that Aaron was really reluctant to have vocals on Intervals until he finally conceded. It wasn't a "wish granted" situation. That's partially why Mike left, and that's one reason why Lukas and Anup left.
    Soumyangel
    never heard of intervals before this...listened to im awake...became a fan...period...
    vguitars3577
    If you like this song, try listening to "Epiphany". That one got me hooked years ago!
    triface
    I really like the new album. It's a little different from old Intervals. You don't hear as much djent, and it has more "light melodies" weaved into the songs, but this is still clearly Aaron Marshall.