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Album Review: SHÁ NOVA The Speed of Nothing

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It is said that variety is the spice of life. Without a change of scenery or pace, everything can seem a bit monotonous and dull. Certainly, the same sentiment can be applied to music, but I would say some subgenres are more susceptible to be flawed with lacking diversity.

With groups such as Animals as Leaders or Plini skyrocketing in popularity amongst the prog metal crowd, other guitar-fueled instrumental acts inevitably followed. With the sudden spike in quantity of these projects, the unfortunate result was a lack of variation. Considering the surplus of thumpy, shreddy, jazzy bands in the prog scene, there is some reservation when it comes to new bands. Thankfully, Shá Nova's debut LP The Speed of Nothing has the awareness of this issue to bring something new and unique to the table.

Album Review: SHÁ NOVA The Speed of Nothing

The choice to begin with “Nescience” was a total smart move. This track lays everything out in the open—it goes pretty damn hard too. Other heavy songs include "Plea the Fifth" and "Vortex," both of which are reminiscent of Animals as Leaders' Weightless era with similarities in tone and funky rhythms to a composition like "Do Not Go Gently." Although Animals as Leaders seem to be the go-to comparison band for instrumental shred artists, Shá Nova never reach a point where they rip-off the band. Case in point, they throw in other quirks like a jazz breakdown and a Porcupine Tree-esque lick.

On the other hand, you have smooth pieces like "Eternal Bonds," a feel-good jam for the ages. If you’re not pulling off sweet white dad dance moves while lightly sipping on a glass of scotch in your living room listening to this song, you’re doing it all wrong. Even though the piece's speed and warmth eventually build up, it mostly revolves a fairly simple jazz riff. Elsewhere, "Holdin' On" is also light, fluffy, and full of soul.

For the most part though, Shá Nova’s music possesses a very lighthearted and fun atmosphere. They're akin to the vibes Chon gives off. Speaking of Chon, I’d bet good money that this band is heavily influenced by those dudes. Furthermore, I’d assume the members in this group hold some form of classical training by evidence shown on the baroque sounding intro of “Plea the Fifth.” That’s not to say other musicians in the modern metallic instrumental scene aren’t classically trained, yet Shá Nova very much so leans on their educated foundation, where shredders like Tosin Abasi or Sithu Aye may use theory as a tool, while still holding a heavier goal in mind.

Moving forward, I’d love to have more spicy seasonings thrown into the production. These compositions are very pure and raw, which certainly can be respectable, but I feel that the frosting on top would have been revealed with a little bit of post-production experimentation. Toss in a light synth drone, a few samples, fuck around with the bells and whistles of modern day effects, and there might have been an even more appetizing chunk of music presented on The Speed of Nothing.

At the end of the day, Shá Nova conveys a very catchy, memorable, and enjoyable experience on this album. For the most part, their influences point back to the giants in the subgenre like Animals As Leaders, Intervals, Plini, Chon, Polyphia, etc., however, their musical spectrum extends to other realms and allows for their material to stand out a bit amongst all the instrumental prog clutter. I look forward to their future music and hope they continue their virtuosic prowess with a deeper sense of exploration.

Score: 8/10


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