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.