I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: watching artists challenge themselves is one of the best things in life. Even when you don’t know who the artist is, even if the work in which they’re challenging themselves is the first thing of theirs you hear, there’s an energy there, a kind of exhilaration I like to believe comes with the freedom of breaking your own boundaries. That’s what I feel at least from Archaeologist‘s 2017 release, Odysseys, an instrumental progressive metal EP from a one man project that manages to feel fresh and hungry. It also sports an impressive list of features guests, like Yvette Young (covet), Sithu Aye, and more. It features plenty of technical licks and solos to keep your progressive heart at ease but also a lot of feel and groove. Head on below the jump for your first taste!

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I chose to showcase “Archipelago” even though it’s one of the only two tracks not to feature a guest not because I think it’s more “authentic” or anything like that. Rather, the track just radiates the energy and power of the release in a really interesting way; from the dreamy first passages, through the buildup and finally at the effective chorus, announced by a brilliant little guitar lines, “Archipelago” is just a lot of fun. Perhaps because Arcaheologist is not a progressive metal project (browse back through the project’s discography and you’ll see that this one EP is the odd one out), the music doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of the self-importance and excessive grandiosity of the genre. This can be heard on the excellent outro, filled with acoustic guitars which remind me of The Isosceles Project (remember those guys? Go check them out, immediately) before verging off to the kind of sweet antics which might fit into a more nu-prog type release.

Instead of being bogged down with this wealth of ideas, we get a light-hearted and light-fingered approach to the different styles, the music flitting between ideas long enough to explore them but moving on before they lose their charm and their welcome. Because the EP is also relatively short, that kind of freshness is maintained throughout, making for a very enjoyable and digestible listen. Hopefully, whatever comes next for this varied project is as good as this EP, which points to a real artistic desire to branch out and explore new ground.