Hopeful, atmospheric, melodic, uplifitng, spiritual – Introducing: Intrøspect

Intrøspect is a progressive metal band hailing from Sydney, Australia. Their unique flavor of progressive metal blends heavy riffs, post-rock, and ambient influences to create a spiritual atmosphere where the transcendent extremes of the human experience are given proper sonic treatment. Their latest release ‘Midnight Sun‘ is a 6-track adventure through triumph, adversity, heartbreak, and reverence. Recorded & produced with returning collaborator Chris Blancato (Northlane, Bare Bones). Mixed & mastered from the UK by George Lever (Sleep Token, Loathe). The much-anticipated second release is already proving to be a step up in every way. Solidifying their sound as uniquely distinct in the broader landscape of heavy music. Check out our interview with the guitarist, Jamie McVicker!

Beginnings:

The early beginnings of Intrøspect emerged when Loko & I came together to collaborate on some heavy/prog instrumental tracks from 2017-2018. I had just left a previous project and was eager to keep the ball rolling with writing, so together we made 5 tracks that would later become the Ad Astra EP. Unfortunately, progress halted when our first vocalist (screaming/metalcore style) left the band in 2018. Loko & I felt pretty disheartened and had almost given up on keeping the project alive, until I met Felicity at a Plini gig, completely by chance. Felicity’s voice fits perfectly into the instrumental sounds we had already recorded, so in mid-2019 we recorded the rest of the EP with her vocal additions to create the ‘Ad Astra’ EP, which we released in October of the same year. We all consider meeting and working with Felicity as the moment the band was truly born.

Behind the name:

I came up with the name, and it’s based broadly on the emotional and atmospheric goals of the music. We really want our tracks to put people in an ‘Introspective’ headspace, where they can ponder some of life’s bigger questions, as well as reflecting on the trials and transformations of their lives and the utter mystery of being human & conscious. The ø character just looks cool to us and helps distinguish us from any other artists or songs that may share the name.

Inspiration:

We are very ‘free love’ in where we draw inspiration from musically, which is probably why we always end up exploring such a variety of sounds and moods in our tracks.
Northlane, Architects & Sleep Token are huge inspirations for Loko & me in writing guitars, and all of us have love for Aussie and international prog (Karnivool, TesseracT). Hugo also plays a lot of jazz as well as metal, which you can definitely feel in the way he composes drums. Personally, I really enjoy prog electronic music, ambient & shoegaze, and I’m always trying to bring the reflective feelings and atmospheric tones from these spacey genres into metal with our writing and production.

As the lyricist for each of the songs, I drew inspiration from my personal experiences with loss & heartbreak, both from my deeper past and more recent events.

Other tracks explore more philosophical & spiritual themes, so there’s a mixture of personal emotional inspiration (Wisdom, Itomori) with questions of the deeper meaning of humanity, nature, creativity, art, and spiritual truth (Star’s End, Mjolnir). The overriding theme is finding hope and strength in darkness, as the hard times of our lives are what shape us – we are quite optimistic in that regard and always trying to spread that message of hope.

Teamwork:

Our process has changed a lot since the last record, which was more instrumentally focused before we met Felicity. For Midnight Sun, the process was much more organic and collaborative, written with vocals front of mind from the start. The songs had their origins in initial demos & lyrics I sketched out, but these really only served as frameworks, from which the final tracks grew in a more organic process, with everyone adding their own flavors. Loko added lead guitars, re-voiced & re-arranged a lot of parts and tracks (Mjolnir was essentially his creation from this process), and Hugo added his voice and talent in writing the drum parts. Felicity leads the vocal workshopping, but we all had a part in working out the melodies, which was such a fun and wholesome process for us. Given this collaborative writing style, the final sound is really dependant on the close teamwork of everyone in the band, each bringing their own strengths to create a unity greater than any individual part.

COVID-19:

The pandemic was actually a blessing for us, with the initial lockdown & temporary loss of work for most of us giving space to work on the new tracks, whilst no one was touring, socializing, or doing much of anything! Midnight Sun would not be coming out next month if it weren’t for COVID-19. That being said, we all missed playing live shows, but we’re hopeful live music will make a return here sooner rather than later. We feel pretty blessed to be living in Australia during this international crisis, as income security as well as a pretty solid response from our government means haven’t suffered as much as others.

Fun facts:

  • Guitarists Jamie & Loko actually went to the same high school, but years apart, and never knew each other until years after they’d both graduated, meeting at a prog show in 2015. 
  • Our drummer Hugo only turned 18, but he shreds harder than any drummer we know. We all suspect he may be an alien planted on earth to do nothing but play drums at the highest level. 
  • Jamie meeting Felicity was also an entirely chance encounter, as Jamie was introduced by a mutual friend & muso (Emmy, from Redhook) at a gig. Without this random encounter, they would have never met, and the band would not exist (thanks Emmy!) 
  • Jamie met Ben Powell (the Cinematographer who shot our ‘Ad Astra’ Music Video) also completely by chance, on a plane headed to Adelaide. Seated next to Ben, he overheard him talking about film equipment on the phone, and the two quickly bonded over a shared love and career of filmmaking, which lead to Ben working with us years later.
  •  Our final show before COVID-19 canceled live music in 2020 was very chaotic. We were playing in Melbourne for the first time, and one minute into the set, the electronics in Jamie’s guitar completely failed as an essential wire broke off inside the guitar. We played the next track without him, before he was rescued by Jake Ewings from Ebonivory, who gave Jamie his guitar to finish the set, but not before everyone nearly died of panic. Thanks Jake! 

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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