Thanks to a tiny little post by Metal Wani on Facebook, I learned of the existence of a genre that is officially called prog metal but which I qualify as instrumental metal. The two bands I checked out were both built around a single guitarist and building out a formal 3-4 piece group . I find it to be fun to listen to and even oddly relaxing. Both bands just released their 3rd albums, The Joy of Motion for Animals as Leaders and A Voice Within for Interval.
Animals as Leaders is an American prog metal band featuring the amazing Tosin Abasi as well as Javier Reyes both on guitar. The time signature is rather variable and the style bounces around from Zappa-esque fugues to more Rush-like grace and technicality. There tend to be both jams and slower pieces and so the three albums all feel very carefully crafted and even. If there is one caveat, it is that the three albums feature more or less the same sound – little evolution so far. That is not necessarily a bad thing as I love what it sounds like anyway and the idea of metal without screaming or even singing is just so new. Abasi is one helluva guitarist in any case.
Intervals is a Canadian band built around guitarist Aaron Marshall who actually recorded all the parts of the two EPs leading up to the latest disc which added vocals. When I read that Intervals was adding vocals, I got a little worried because the last two examples I am aware of concerning instrumental music flopping when vocals were added would be albums after the masterpiece Surfing with the Alien where Satch tries to sing (argh!) and the late Michael Hedges with the same story between the masterful Aerial Boundaries to the not-so-great Live on the Double Planet. The two EPs (The Space Between and In Time) are fast and furious, both gorgeous walls of sound. I have just started listening to the new disc, so I have to listen a bit more to see if the tradeoff of losing some guitar pyrotechnics to the vocal treatment . The first single “The Escape” was superior in that regard to the followup, “The Self Surrendered” which IMHO suffers a bit from the choral treatment at the end. That being said, the leadoff track “Ephemeral” sounds like the two original Intervals albums and here the vocals do add a nice texture. It is quite interesting to watch these guys evolve. It would probably be cool to see them live someday.
So, what other Prog / Intrumental Bands am I missing out on? Did you enjoy The Joy of Motion or A Voice Within?