It’s a good time to be a progressive metal fan. We’ve already mentioned the momentum that seems to be possessing the sub-community, leading to many a masterful release in the past few years. However, the true mark of a scene in bloom is new artists; veterans reiterating on their craft, even if they reinvent themselves while doing so, isn’t quite enough. After all, Haken or Caligula’s Horse aren’t exactly new comers anymore; is there a next generation that might good on the promise of the past few years? How about Slyde? While Back Again isn’t their debut release, it’s an impressive step forward/return to form for these Canadian bright-eyed musicians and stands to solidify their name as one of the more promising ventures in the increasingly prolific progressive metal scene.
The best thing about Slyde is that they drag progressive metal kicking and screaming into contemporary trends and ideas. Where Haken threwback with Affinity, Slyde look forward with Back Again. This four track release, really more of an EP than anything else, is filled with interesting melds between progressive metal, indie, pop and dance. Second track “Join the Parade” is a perfect example; while it’s dominated by the high-octave vocals that have become the Canadian scenes trademark (think Mandroid Echostar), the groovy guitar and bass lines are something which belongs more in a singer/songwriter or an indie context. And it’s fantastic; this approach works really well not only with the aforementioned vocals but also with the heavier guitar parts.
To this already pleasing mix, add expressive backing synths and more dominant keyboards in general. Unisons abound aplenty but the synths also know how to rock out on their own, riding the groove waves set forth by the rest of the instruments. On the heavier track “Divide”, these elements lockstep to create a more traditionally progressive vibe, riffs and groove backed by synth overlay. However, listen as the verses channel pop-punk in their delivery, reminding us of Marmozets and their most recent release. This, coupled with the sweet synths lends the whole thing it’s sweet and upbeat quality.
The last piece of the Slyde puzzle is the overall structure of the album. The four tracks represent an exploration of the influences we mentioned above, plus some mathrock and emo on the last track. Overall, it seems as if Back Again‘s purpose (especially prominent on the last track) is to explore the spaces left behind in the wake of Coheed and Cambria and Mandroid Echostar. Slyde double down on the role of indie, emo, and math rock found in those seminal bands and moves progressive metal closer to those places.
The result is an album which benefits more from those splices, containing much of what’s to love about all genres involved. The clever structure, not too long and not too short, expertly arranged track by track, allows them to hope with agility between the different influences. Add pleasing production which accentuates everything that needs accentuating and the sheer amount of fun that Slyde are obviously having while playing this music, and you get an infections and happy album. Back Again is a great way to return; welcome back Slyde.
Back Again will be self released on February 17th. Watch this space for a full stream next week and head on over here to follow the band.