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10 Best Instrumental Metal Albums Since 2010, Chosen by Intervals

Here are the 10 best instrumental metal albums since 2010, ranked by Intervals’ Aaron Marshall.

For a decade, guitarist Aaron Marshall has been releasing shred-tastic, tasteful and innovative instrumental metal as Intervals. He’s been shouted out as a huge influence by the likes of Wolfgang Van Halen and recently toured with Wolfgang’s band Mammoth WVH.

So, when he has some recommendations about the modern era of instrumental metal (instru-metal?), you’re going to want to listen and see what you may have been missing out on.

But first…

What You Need to Know About Intervals

From: Toronto, Canada

First Album: A Voice Within (2014)

New Album: Memory Palace

With the rise of djent also came a new wave of lead guitar players who utilize those choppy, syncopated chugs as the backdrop for their explosive, technical solos and melodies. Naturally, the scene became flooded with at-home shredders who, with the ease of home recording, became known in guitar circles in online communities. And, similar to the MySpace wave of heavy bands that became popular, this helped launch so many bands.

Intervals began as an outlet for Marshall’s songwriting after leaving a band and it quickly came together not long after he uploaded two songs online.

Since, Marshall has become a force in his respective scene, collaborating with numerous guitar phenoms and, as we’ve already pointed, gaining the respect of other serious guitarists in rock.

Intervals’ latest album, Memory Palace, is expectedly loaded with guitar wizardy, but it’s also incredibly danceable, with tight grooves and vibrant melodies. It really begins to shed a lot of the heaviest trappings and taps into another realm that keeps this scene moving forward.

Intervals, “Mnemonic”

‘Memory Palace’ is out now and can be purchased here. Follow Intervals on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and check out the band’s website for all upcoming tour dates.

10 Best Instrumental Metal Albums Since 2010, Chosen by Intervals’ Aaron Marshall

Intervals’ Aaron Marshall holding green guitar

Randy Edwards

Hey! Hi! Hello!

Making this list took me on a refreshing and inspiring journey back through many of my favorite records over the past 14 years or so.

A few quick notes before we get into it:

As someone that actively records and performs music in the genre, I did my absolute best to remove any personal bias, given that every artist/group on this list are peers and close friends. If you don’t see an artist you thought you would on here, it doesn’t mean their records aren’t worthy of praise or notoriety.

Avid listeners of modern instrumental/guitar music know that a common trait of the sound is actually where the lines blur, style/genre-wise. There are some seminal releases that would have made the cut for this list, but didn’t strike me as solely being rooted in “metal” which was part of the criteria asked of me in this case.

There are some EPs (as opposed to LP’s) on here, and in one case, I reference an entire collection. so I might be bending the rules there [editor’s note: Rules are for chumps — bend away!], but the bodies of work that I chose couldn’t be left out of the conversation when it comes to the topic of focus.

Lastly, you will hear the odd vocal part on one or two of these releases, but they would equate to less than five to 10 percent of any of those respective releases, and function more as a textural element or another instrument in terms of their function, for the most part.

It wasn’t worth counting those works out on account of minimal liberties taken with vocals at any point.

SHEESH! Okay, here we go:

10. Bulb, Archives Volume 1-8 (2020)

Starting with a curveball right away, I’ve chosen the entire collection of Archives from Bulb aka Misha Mansoor, who readers would know from the band Periphery. These are a collection of re-mixed/mastered demos and ideas that Misha used to post on a website called Soundclick, in the years surrounding 2010.

Many of them have gone on to become Periphery, or Haunted Shores songs, but some also live on as significantly important compositions that without a doubt, influenced the impending wave of modern instrumental guitarists (myself included) from that point forward.

9. The Helix Nebula, Meridian (2013)

The Helix Nebula are a band from Sydney, Australia, comprised of my dear friends Simon Grove (bass for also dear friend Plini – Simon also mixed and co-produced my 2017 record “The Way Forward”), Stephen Taranto on guitar (who you will see later in this list), Jake Howsam Lowe (live guitar for Plini), and Nic Tresise on drums.

This was, and still is, such a strong release from this moment in modern instrumental guitar. You might hear how my choice in the list before this (the Bulb Archives) had an influence on the style, but the guys were taking the genre many levels beyond with Meridian. Perhaps some of the strongest performance and composition from this time period.

8. Night Verses, From The Gallery of Sleep (2018)

Night Verses are a trio from California. I met these guys back in 2014 on one of Intervals’ first full tours, as we both supported Protest The Hero across North America. One of the most impressive live acts I’ve ever seen and all three of these guys are absolute monsters on their instruments.

Some readers might be familiar with drummer Aric Improta (ex-Fever 333 and now House of Protection) who is a maniac that can scream louder than the PA at any given show. He’s been known to strap a GoPro to his head and do backflips while playing drums. Nick DePirro and Reilly Herrara (guitar and bass) are both definitive players in modern instrumental music.

It’s no surprise that they are currently on tour supporting Tool in Europe, as I write for this article. This record is produced/mixed by Will Putney and every last moment is incredible.

7. Jakub Zytecki, Wishful Lotus Proof (2015)

We can’t have a conversation about modern guitar without mentioning Jakub. The guy is a complete freak on not only guitar, but composition and production.

You will hear some intermittent vocals throughout, but as I said above, you just can’t discredit some of these releases for a little bit of vocals. Especially when the tunes are so guitar forward, and everything from Jakub makes me want to take my guitar…forward…over a balcony… but then have it repaired because that was a stupid thing to do. I’m also inspired to play more guitar when I listen to his music, so why did I do that?

Jakub is unreal. Enjoy.

6. Chimp Spanner, At The Dreamers Edge (2010)

Very similarly to Misha’s Bulb Archives, Chimp Spanner (Paul Ortiz) was producing seminal releases in the genre at this time. I remember meeting Matt Halpern from Periphery on the sidewalk outside the Thrash and Burn Tour at The Opera House in Toronto back in 2009 and he had headphones on. I asked him what he was listening to and he said, “Oh dude, it’s this guy from the U.K. called Chimp Spanner and it’s amazing, you need to check this out”.

I always remember how excited he was to show me and my friend Andrew McEnaney (drummer of Structures) Paul’s music. Fast forward to now, and this is still absolutely a crucial body of work for the genre overall.

I even remember hearing Steve Vai mention Paul in an interview sometime around the release of this record. Paul is a phenomenal composer and such a sick guitar player and ATDE is such an important release for instrumental metal.

5. David Maxim Micic, Bilo II (2012)

David is a dear friend and possesses such an inspiring approach to music. This is one of the first releases in the genre to really change my perspective on what is possible and where the sound can go. There are many attributes that make David’s music uniquely his, and only his, and I don’t have time to go in depth on those.

Instead, you’ll load it up, and understand exactly what I mean within the first few tunes. David still continues to make some of the most important music within the microcosm of instrumental metal/guitar music. Not long after this, David featured on Intervals’ 2013 In Time EP. He plays an unbelievable solo on “Epiphany.”

4. Marco Sfogli, reMarcoble (2012)

First of all, you can’t mess with a man committed to making a pun out of his first name and then using it as an official album title. Secondly, Marco might be the most influential guitarist on my lead playing as far as his natural and effortless ability to make the instrument sing.

There are some perhaps, not so metal moments on this one, but that comes with the territory, given where he comes from musically, but when it’s metal, it’s metal.

Marco is from Naples, Italy, and has played on records with the likes of James LaBrie & Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. I actually found Marco through one of my all time favorite prog/fusion records, “EGO” by Italian keyboardist/composer Alex Argento, but that doesn’t really meet the “metal” mark for this list.

There isn’t much more I can say regarding Marco, short of thanking him for how much his playing has had an impact on mine. I was fortunate enough to feature him on my song “String Theory” from Intervals’ 2020 record Circadian. Just listen to this guy.

3. David Maxim Micic, Who Bit The Moon (2017)

Another release from David! Yes. Another one. I had to include WBTM as an example of how modern guitar music has evolved over time, and this is a prime one. David shows such restraint in his playing, in a way that serves the compositions just right.

This one might actually be teetering on almost not “metal” enough for this list at times, but it makes the cut, in my opinion (I suppose that’s what all of this is, isn’t it?) I had the pleasure of contributing a guest solo on the song “Living Room”, but minor bias aside (I really tried), this is a stunning body of work.

Protect David at all costs.

2. Animals As Leaders, The Joy of Motion (2014)

Of course it was impossible to complete this list without an AAL record, are you kidding me?

This band kicked the door down for us all, and with the 10 year anniversary of The Joy of Motion tour happening later this year, it’s only right that I give the fellas their flowers.

I’d be shocked if readers aren’t familiar with this record. I think AAL are the band Intervals have toured with the most out of anyone over the course of our touring career. Matt, Javier, and Tosin are three of my favorite human beings on planet earth. This was mandatory.

1. Stephen Taranto, Permanence (2019)

Modern guitar music hasn’t and won’t ever be the same in the wake of this release. I cannot overstate how incredible the performance and compositions on this record are. I was blown away by Stephen’s playing all the way back in 2013 when Meridian by The Helix Nebula (No. 9 on my list) came out, but Permanence solidified Stephen as the future of the instrument in my mind.

If you listen to one record on this list, let it be this. Also keep a bucket on hand for the inevitable moment that your brain falls out of your head, through your mouth, and onto the ground.

There’s nothing more to say.

Well damn, there you go! Shoutout Loudwire for pushing me down a nostalgic rabbit hole filled with so many important records for instrumental metal/guitar music. I hope everyone discovers some new favorite tunes, and if you’re still hungry for more, I coincidentally just put out a brand new record called Memory Palace, of which you can stream anywhere and everywhere now! Thanks for reading!

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Gallery Credit: Chad Childers, Loudwire




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