You may have noticed that AMG doesn’t actually really do a lot of unsigned band reviews. Partially this is ’cause we don’t get a lot of unsigned demos, and partially it’s ’cause when we do they tend to be poorly delivered with little promo info and so forth. So I was pleased to get this promo from the Greek progressive modern rock band InTensity who delivered it to me via BandCamp, this is a highly recommended way of doing this, unsigned bands. Times is a four track EP that was self-produced by the vocalist/guitarist Ilias Iovis and is available digitally throughout the world today with future, physical versions to be announced.
Times is truly well-crafted DIY project that should be lauded for its quality, in the face of everything. The production is pretty much immaculate (though the drums could be a bit higher in the mix). The sound is a lot more natural than I’m used to hearing on more releases and there’s definitely an appeal to that, and I think (but I’m not certain) that the drums on here are actually programmed or replaced, but they sound better than a lot of what I hear coming out of professional studios. So I have to give InTensity and the main man Ilias some credit for that.
However, what is contained within is, as odd as it sounds to say, cookie cutter prog with very little forward vision or novelty to it. Sounding like a combination of Tool, Porcupine Tree and Riverside, InTensity crafts 4 roughly 7 minute tracks that wander and weave without ever really ending up anywhere. The truly “progressive” moments (the weird parts with weird time signatures and so forth) fall totally flat because of what feels like a fundamental inability to write something in a strange time signature without starting from a quarter note base. As an example, in the track “Morpheus”, the riffs towards the end drag on repetitively, skipping beats or adding things, but never feeling particularly interesting, innovative or inventive. This is also true in the final track on the record “Through His Eyes” where the listener is treated to some of the more mind-numbing riffs I’ve heard on a prog record in recent times.
But without question the weakest part of this record are the vocals. Many of the flaws that stand out to me could be rectified with a good vocalist who can distract away from what one could consider to be the more banal side of progressive rock. Iovis and Kostas Papageorgiou treat us to some truly boring, atonal and out of tune vocals. While I’m a big fan of vocalist in a lower register, Iovis just doesn’t have the vocals to carry this project, in the way a guy like Maynard James Keenan or Jasper Steverlinck can do, taking music that isn’t mind blowing and transforming it into something else both wonderful and impressive. InTensity never reaches this level even remotely vocally and this weakness is probably most of all what kills this EP for me.
There are some promising moments, aside from the vocals the track “Distorted” has some amazing “ethnic” breakdowns which blend perfectly into the groove of the track. In fact, when the band is writing music that “sounds Greek”, they seem to be doing their most interesting stuff and it’s something they should definitely consider building on. There are other moments of this nature as well, riffs that stand out and a feeling at the beginning of “Through His Eyes” that differentiates itself, but all-in-all Times is probably not worth your â‚¬3. It’s obvious to me that there is talent here, but there is also a need to work a bit harder on the writing and arrangements and to completely change the vocals around. While you gotta respect the DIY projects who pull it off well, which I do as a fan of DIY and solo projects, InTensity needs some work.