Music that walks the line is always fun because it forces you to think outside preconceived boxes. As a habitual line stepper myself, I like bands like The Intersphere because they’re progressive rock, but not that progressive or at least in the way you might think. You recommend them to a Dream Theater kid and they’ll likely tell you to take your dad music elsewhere – that’s less a slight against the band and more to the Dream Theater kid… I mean, come on, he likes Dream Theater.
Jokes aside, The Intersphere make for an interesting, thought-provoking time because their music doesn’t require a Mensa membership or complex mathematical formulas to calculate their time sigs. In fact, it’s quite approachable and fun. Wanderer is no different. I won’t lie, I had to get over some initial hang-ups and what I, somewhat jokingly, referred to a bait-and-switch with the album when I first listened to it. See, the first track – the title one – is this lovely, grand, and powerful song. Such a wonderful opening. The drums are unreasonably good, it’s action packed with melodies, and there’s this feel-good energy about it perfect for all the budding trees and good weather that spring is bringing.
It was so good, so striking, that at first the rest of the album came up short. The driving structure of “Bulletproof” was fun, very much a rock-oriented song, same with “Heads Will Rolls” which is the heaviest song on Wanderer. Lighter songs that were closer to “Wanderer” like “Down” came closer to doing for me, but still missed a critical element the title track had. It wasn’t until a few listens in that it all sort of baked together and I really started to see the album for what it was. One underrated element of a good prog project (progject) is variance, and that’s where The Intersphere shows true strength.
Without overthinking it much, there’s about five or so different ‘types’ of songs on Wanderer. No, I won’t go into each one, but I think you’ll be able to see what I mean when you listen to it. They’re mostly delineated by mood and tempo, but some more stuff goes into like the attitude of the melodies. “Treasure Chest” for example is one of the more chilled-out songs on the album with sparse, airy guitars and atmosphere where vocals carry most of the weight. It’s a great time, relaxing without abandoning its rock foundation and becoming an ambient track or something. “Who Likes To Deal With Death?” is pretty sunny despite its name, and “Corrupter” has some neat grit to it despite the overall clean tones that The Intersphere has.
That’s really what makes Wanderer a cool album, one definitely worth checking out. You can argue about the ‘prog’ label all you want, but for me I see them in a similar light as Coheed and Cambria who also play pretty fast and loose with the progressive rock label lately. The rockier, poppier details and approaches simply make the music explorable in different way, and that’s to its benefit if the goal is to be more affecting from an emotional standpoint. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that this LP lacks an artistic acumen because nothing could be further from the truth. The writing on here is highly competent and everyone performs wonderfully – especially those drums, damn. But still, yes, I do wish there were more moments like “Wanderer” on here.
I’ve failed to mention until now that Wanderer isn’t my first time with The Intersphere. Their last album, The Grand Delusion, was. If pressed, I’d say this new album clears it as far as emotional resonance and musicianship, though I’m sure this is more of a moment of ‘you can’t go wrong’ with any of their stuff as they have maintained a solid consistency throughout their decade-plus career. As long as they give me some more of “Wanderer” here and there, I’ll be interested. Check out this album if you just want a good time, genre labels be damned.