Intervals – Circadian (Album Review)

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November is a great month for new releases if you enjoy progressive guitar instrumentals.  Two of the brightest stars in the genre are releasing new albums in November.  Plini is set to release “Impulse Voices” on November 27th and Intervals, headed by Aaron Marshall, will release “Circadian” on November 13th.  While the two progressive artists share a genre, they are very different in their approach to their craft.

Plini‘s music is more dreamlike and floats through the clouds like a hot air balloon, whereas Intervals is more terra firma, street savvy, cruising the strip in a top down convertible, rolling with attitude.  Ok, enough with the overwrought analogies: let’s talk about what Aaron Marshall and crew have come up with on their latest release, “Circadian.”

The album opens with a bang with the super melodic, “5-HTP.”  The music is crazy busy but, like the drug it’s named after, still somehow relaxing and smile inducing.  After a few listens, you will find yourself humming the main riff throughout the day.  The song latches on to the listener immediately and quickly establishes that Intervals is upping their game with this release.  While there is plenty of shred to be found here, it all serves the song and it all rocks.

Next up is “Vantablack” that opens like a freight train running at max speed upping the tempo quite a bit.  Some nice, djent-y riffs propel it ever forward and, just when your brain is beginning to numb from the pace, the band takes their foot off the pedal briefly and introduces a nice bass line from Jacob Umansky followed by a tasty, melodic solo from Aaron to allow you to collect your wits before the track climbs back to its urgent pace for the finale.

Luna[r]tic” offers an initial respite from the manic pace set by the openers.  It opens with what sounds like a tapped harmonic riff and/or maybe a doubled synth riff that sets the tone for the track.  There are moments within the track that are Plini-esque but with the Intervals trademark sound.  It’s enough of a change from the opening tracks to inject some diversity but not lose the focus of the music.

“Lock & Key” is a definite highlight on the album.  It features some nice guitar interplay between Marshall and 8 string guitarist Josh De La Victoria.  It possesses an infectious riff that is just a memorable as “5-HTP.”  The kind of song you just want to crank up in your car on a summer day.  “5HTP” and “Lock & Key” in particular show a growth in the songwriting chops of Marshall.  He has always been able to write slamming guitar based instrumentals.  This record sees him not abandoning that approach, but injecting enough melody and dynamics to keep the listener more engaged.  The back and forth between Aaron and Josh is really impressive here as well.  They each have very different styles but they interweave their lines together so that it takes the song to a whole ‘nother level.  

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“Signal Hill” stands out with some inspired rhythmic work ala Animals as Leaders before diving into “String Theory”.  As with “Signal Hill,” the rhythm guitar work does not take a back seat but instead keeps the song centered and engaging.  With Aaron‘s chops, it would be easy to careen off into excess, shred land, but every note here seems to serve a purpose.

Next is “D.O.S.E.”  which opens with a synth riff that sounds like it could have been from an 80’s blockbuster before the guitar crashes in.  Some nice fusion like playing from Aaron with variations of the synth riff in the background.  And did I mention it’s got some horns in it?  A saxophone shows up to the party late to complete the 80’s homage.  Once again, while the song brings a different feel than the rest of the album, it still feels very cohesive within the scope of the album.

“Circadian” closes out with “The Earthing.”  A worthy track with a nice groove albeit slightly overshadowed by the fun drenched prior track.  It features some more subdued, fluid lead guitar and brings the album to a satisfying close.

With prior Intervals releases, I have always appreciated the playing but never deeply connected with the music.  For me personally, there just wasn’t always enough that would bring me back again and again for more.  That changes with “Circadian.” This release demonstrates an ever evolving progression to the Intervals sound.  It strikes the perfect balance between shred, songwriting and melody and, as such, is Interval’s finest work.  Aaron and crew put on an amazing live performance and I can’t wait to see these guys bring the new songs to the stage in 2021.

For Fans Of: Plini, Joe Satriani, Animals as Leaders

Released by: Independent Release
Released Date: November 13th, 2020
Genre: Instrumental Rock

Musicians:

  • Aaron Marshall / Guitars
  • Nathan Bulla / Percussion
  • Jacob Umansky / Bass

“Circadian” track-listing:

  1. 5-HTP
  2. Vantablack
  3. Luna[r]tic
  4. Lock & Key (featuring Joshua De La Victoria)
  5. Signal Hill
  6. String Theory (featuring Marco Sfogli)
  7. D.O.S.E. (featuring Saxl Rose)
  8. Earthing

8.5 Excellent

This release demonstrates an ever evolving progression to the Intervals sound.  It strikes the perfect balance between shred, songwriting and melody and, as such, is Interval's finest work.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9
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