Release Date: November 28, 2013
Mastering: Versed Audio
Genre: Progressive Metal/Melodic Metal/Jazz
For Fans of: Polyphia, Animals As Leaders, Intervals, Cloudkicker, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Dream Theater
Music, and art in general, are absolutely wonderful things. Art and opportunities for creativity are what give life its spice and vitality, enriching the experiences, events, thoughts and relationships around us. But if there is anything that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, it is poorly crafted art. No one turns to sour or inadequate experiences when seeking to release an emotion or spend time reflecting on life and oneself, so quality art is always in high demand. It is rare indeed when an artist or band can come along and modify one’s appreciation and standards for a type of music. Sithu Aye and Plini are two such individuals.
As Plini from Sydney, Australia and Sithu Aye from St Andrews, Scotland come together on this EP, the results are mind-blowingly intricate. The prolific and dynamically expressive guitarists pump out progressive metal riffs with envious ease, and they lace their high-powered riffing with irresistible melodies, jazz and rock influences and perfectly curated softer measures. Featuring solos from David Maxim Micic and Jakub Zytecki, I is a ride you cannot miss.
“Orm” steps right up to the plate and Plini knocks a home run out of the metaphorical park, greeting the listener’s ears with a multitude of impressive qualities and inclinations. Within the first 10 seconds of this track, anyone who appreciates dynamic and zestful music will readily find a handful of melodic phrasings and rhythmic syncopation to sink their teeth into. For fans of heavier and more aggressive music, there is certainly no shortage of material to nod one’s head toward, either.
Even on just the first track, riff after riff comes through on “Orm” and it serves as a reminder for why great music is truly so great, and how progressive music in particular has stood for so long as such a deeply appreciated genre. Plini and Sithu Aye do not cut corners on formulating how they will churn out the exact emotions and waves of sound they want, and this is all highly manifest on I.
Plini expertly lays out section after section of building tension and releasing it on “Orm,” as the listener can allow themselves to get lost in the vibrant, stimulating and upbeat melodies that envelop the professional-level production of I. There is no faltering of instrumentation or weak songwriting on this release; every song plays its part as it should, keeps the listener guessing as to what is next and is very far from feeling dull.
For an EP (and full music catalog) of programmed drums, the choice of tone, intensity of playing and frequency of fills seem to all fit in as they should, an impressive mark alone for music with a heavier bent. Notable progressive rock bands from history alone (such as Rush, Yes and Genesis) have been known to utilize more complex and heavily played percussion, so it is no small feat to have programmed the drums in a way that does this music justice without coming across as overplayed.
Plini closes his half of the EP off with “Rupture,” a slightly less involved track, but no less engaging. The interplay of Micic and Plini on this track is impeccable. The top-level composition of the entire EP is quickly noticeable on “Rupture.” For such a comparatively young host of musicians, the tastemaking on I is a force to be reckoned with. It is very easy to tell that both Plini and Sithu Aye draw from an unusually wide and strong collection of influences, some of which include Paul Gilbert, John Petrucci, Dream Theater and Steve Vai. The full production on “Rupture” includes synth instrumentation and other accents that complete the angle of Plini’s masterful songs to a T.
The pace picks up a bit more on “Solstice” as Sithu Aye cuts his first track on I. Another aspect of I and this duo’s musicianship that cannot be overlooked is their seemingly painless ability to use their own voices on their songs, but still make the EP sound like it came from one artist. The melodies, harmonies and guitar work cranked out by Sithu Aye on “Solstice” provoke both the heart and mind. It comes as no surprise that Sithu Aye and Plini have nearly 40,000 Facebook fans combined; this type of music can be appreciated by fans of these genres both new and old.
Every element of I from start to finish is laid out in a quality manner. Not all metal (or at least metal-bent) bands have immaculate tone, but Plini and Sithu Aye understand the need and desire for unblemished timbre, and undoubtedly worked tirelessly to ensure that this release was exactly what they wanted it to be. All instrumentalists that contributed to I, including guest guitarists Micic and Zytecki, express themselves through their guitars with jaw-dropping elegance and smoothness of execution.
“Moonrise” is the perfect capstone to a wildly impressive, premium-quality and unforgettable collection of songs. Zytecki provides a massively inspiring and passionate solo about halfway through, as the listener is urged forward on the road of extraordinary musicality that Sithu Aye and Plini have paved. Sithu Aye incorporates electronic drum beats and synth work toward the end of “Moonrise,” before pulling it back up to close the EP off with a few powerful riffs.
I can be downloaded for free through either artist’s Bandcamp, included below. Be on the lookout for more releases from both artists, and more reviews in accordance.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.
Review by Brad Johnson