It was a nice change of pace in my otherwise electronic-heavy music life to review Alyeus. I love all kinds of instrumental music, but with so much of my time being taken up by the DJing thing, it’s hard to find the time to listen to new artists, so I find myself listening to my old scratched-out records whenever I do take some time outside of Beepboop-land. I’m a big fan of the prog rock genre, being the biggest Rush fan like, everrrrr, so when I saw that these artists from London, Ontario listed Rush as an influence, I thought that if I was going to review anything “non-electronic”, this had to be it. The band found part of its funding on indiegogo, so it’s always nice to see passionate people come together to make good things happen.
The album definitely fulfills its promise of progressiveness. Musically, we’re taken through a journey at sea full of epic moments punctuated by agile transitions. A lot of different degrees of heaviness are explored in this LP, which cover a wide range of the musical spectrum. I’m a sucker for concept albums, so I enjoyed the great amount of detail that was put into turning this idea into something concrete, including the excellent cover art, which I usually never even notice. There’s even a story to go with the album, which features Redding, a starving sailor who battles hunger-induced hallucinations, traitors and imprisonment. The album is part two of a trilogy (with parts one and three yet to come), so I can’t wait to find out what the rest of the story is. I should really insist on the importance of the politely phrased request from the band on the bandcamp page that the album be listened to from beginning to end. You’ll want to let Alyeus tell you their story.
From a technical standpoint, I appreciated the skills – especially the wide variety of moods explored. The bass really stood out for me, I enjoyed how it was part of the melodic elements as too many bands don’t use the bass to its full potential. There are quite a few interesting guitar solos and instrumental sections where the musicians’ skills shine through. I thought the drummer showed quite a bit of adaptability and I really liked his playing on the title track, especially in the metal section. I’m left indifferent by the lead singer’s voice, which neither bothered me nor particularly stood out, but the backing vocals really served to enrich his contribution.
After listening to the album four or five times, I find myself pretty satisfied with the journey I’ve been taken on by this, but still expecting a little bit more of these guys. I found the sound slightly radiophonic at times, but I can live with that since the band is overall loyal to its tag of “prog metal”. I don’t think that’s because anyone wanted to write something aimed at commercial radio here, but musically, the album doesn’t really delve into anything unique that I haven’t heard before. I don’t know whether they have more of the same or something completely different in store for the new album (part one of the story), but I wouldn’t mind seeing some different instruments or electronic elements being added into the mix. Of course it’s not to say that they completely lack originality, but I think that adding something extra into the old rock formula is essential for music to stand out in this saturated world. There’s only so much music that can be written with the vocals-bass-guitars-drums combination, and although the musicians do a really good job of exploring their musicianship within the conventional set up on this album, I’d like to hear what kind of innovative music they could come up with if they added in some new elements. With the amount of creativity required to come up with such a well put together concept album, I’m sure that Alyeus would take us through uncharted waters.
Written by Norm Boivin