Published Apr 09, 2020Oh, Berklee. Metal's relationship with one of the world's most famous music colleges has always been a double-edged sword. Berklee has produced some of rock's most respected players (Mike Portnoy Steve Smith and Steve Vai, for starters), but it has also created a wave of tech-noodlers, blindingly talented musicians who can sweep circles around most other bands, only to be smacked sideways by their own inability to write anything memorable or emotional.
This is doubly the case for instrumental bands. Lacking vocals, it's up to the strength of the players whether or not they can record something that doesn't sound like a band practice. Fortunately, Myth of I aren't your average guitar nerds. There's just enough restraint on their debut self-titled LP to prevent it from being another sweep-fest.
Taking inspiration from Animals as Leaders, the Contortionist and other survivors of the 2010s djent scene, Jennings Smith and Tyler Fritzel are wizards on their fretboards. Listen to the delicate fingerpicking work on "Needlepoint" and contrast it with the low-end polyrhythms of "The Illustrator." Whenever things threaten to become overwhelming, Myth of I know to pull back to a slower pace, as they do on the album's eight-minute centrepiece, aptly titled "The Maze." Its smooth, jazzy intro and outro set the stage perfectly for the Meshuggah-esque drops of the middle section.
Myth of I isn't perfect. There's a sense of repetition towards the end and, at 11 songs long, it could stand to lose a track or two. But Myth of I are already miles ahead of most other bands trying this sort of thing. There's a solid enough foundation of good musicianship and chemistry to build great things off of. (Artisan Era)