When Canadian instrumental metal trio The Dead Centuries describe their approach as “futuristic and dangerous,” it’s safe to say our interest was piqued. Were they going all Keanu on us and delving into The Matrix, or joining John Connor in taking on Skynet? Unfortunately neither, but what they are doing is concocting pure guitar shredaliciousness – which is so good that it’s worthy of us making up the word shredaliciousness.
The Ottawa trio of guitarists Jacob McSheffrey and Adam Tremblett and drummer Bryant McNamara formed a few years ago and honed an intriguing progressive metal sound that they describe to us as “fast, fun and exciting.”
They’ve taken their time but it’s been worth it. As Adam says: “For a couple of years we took things pretty easy, but after I had more and more material written we decided that it was time to take things up a notch, and to do this for real. The prog thing was kind of a natural progression for us, drawing inspiration from all over the place, trying to mash it all together into something new and exciting.”
Their music both hits you hard with big metal-infused riffs then provides the musical magic sponge with rich virtuoso, melodic guitar noodling, inspired by the likes of Protest The Hero, Intervals, Plini, Situ Aye, Paul Gilbert and more. It’s simply intoxicating to listen to.
As Adam puts it: “I would describe our sound as upbeat instrumental metal. I draw inspiration from a lot of places; a lot of the time songs begin with me trying to apply a new concept or technique musically, sort of as an exercise. I think that can help give each song its own personality.”
This has come to fruition with the release of debut album Race Against Time. A personal highlight is the awesome drum vs guitar-off mid-way through second track Gotham, which gives way to a blitz of guitar noodling then two contrasting guitar solos.
Then the simply superb, and brilliantly named, Attack of the Mutant, is a little heavier, starting off with a funky slow metal riff that gives way to a ridiculously good guitar blitz over a massive drum backdrop. It then drops into a more laid-back guitar lick that’s supported by big metal chords and drums. It’s a brilliant, wide-ranging, ever-changing track that can’t help but steal your attention and keep you listening.
Slightly more virtuoso in style is the brilliant Overdrive, which is chocked full of delicious guitar solos. We’re going to leave this one to Adam to sum up for himself: “The album features some great guest guitar solos, notably James Krul of Mandroid Echostar. James follows my guitar solo on the track Overdrive, where I was going for a crazy fast shred-fest, with a tasty, groovy solo that brings the track over the top in my opinion.” Trust us, it’s awesome, give it a listen in the stream below.
On the album, Adam said: “People should expect to hear ten tracks packed with high energy, dense, technical instrumental metal. There are heavy songs, and heavy parts on the album but overall, I think there’s a light-hearted feel to the music. I like to think of it as music you’d play a video game to.
“It’s almost surreal to finally have these songs out in the world. I’ve spent so long writing, practicing, recording, and listening to these songs. Now, to finally have people outside the band to hear them in different setting than a live show is really exciting.”
We also got a bit of insight into the making of the album, as Adam told us: “There were a few difficulties during the recording process, band member changes, recording engineer changes, song rewrites, and a few other things that had to be overcome. Overall I think despite the difficulties faced throughout the process the songs translated well to the recorded form.
“I had a lot of freedom when it came to production, most of the guitar tracking I did myself, and that gave me the opportunity to layer loads of lead guitars, synth, piano, and other instruments that give the tracks more life than what a three-piece band could alone.”
The band are hoping to play live as much as possible, as Adam explains: “If you get a chance to see us live I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. We put a lot of work into our live performance, staying as true to the record as possible, while still putting on the best show we can. If you can’t check us out live, you’ll be able to see some live videos on our YouTube channel.”
And, if you like what you hear from these prog metal guys, then get yourself down to ProgMetalMadness at New Cross Inn in London on 25 February. We’ll buy you a beer (maybe).