Photo: Ignacio Gálvez
Chilean progressive rock outfit AISLES drops their anticipated fifth album, Beyond Drama, via Presagio Records. Beyond Drama is the first LP from the band since 2016’s Hawaii.
Lead guitarist Germán Vergara explains, “‘Beyond Drama’ is such a brutal turning point. We went through this huge restructuring and the loss of some historical members. I would define it as a record of crisis, but also of inspiring moments. Crisis for the whole social and personal context – not that we had been in crisis during the process – but that we were interpreting a crisis of polarization, of a pandemic, of a certain desolation due to the confinement. And of course, we had to move on from the departure of my brother from the band.”
Recorded in 2021 with Germán Vergara (guitar), Felipe Candia (drums), Rodrigo Sepúlveda (guitar), Juan Pablo Gaete (keyboards), Israel Gil (vocals), and Daniel Concha (bass), Beyond Drama leaves behind the concept and sound of Hawaii in favor of a more direct and powerful sound influenced by bands like Porcupine Tree, Rush, and Animals As Leaders.
Talking about the new direction, Vergara shares, “Part of this new creative direction has to do with trying to connect more with the public, more than in ‘Hawaii.’ We wanted to pay a lot of attention to the melodies, something that has been a signature of AISLES’ sound from the beginning of the band.”
Beyond Drama was recorded at Estudio del Sur in Santiago, Chile, produced and mixed by Angelo Marini and Germán Vergara, and mastered by American engineer Randy Merrill.
Encompassing nine tracks, the album begins with “Fast,” opening on appropriately pushing tones atop a finessed, potent rhythm as velvety yet edgy vocals imbue the lyrics with a sense of urgency. Surging, lustrous leitmotifs and sizzling guitars give the harmonics deliciously reckless dynamism.
Entry points include “Thanks to Kafka,” which rolls out on soft, gleaming colors tinted with sparkling accents. As the tune escalates, the harmonics take on heavy, glowing textures, almost strident, while passionate vocals give the lyrics tense emotional savors.
Vaguely reminiscent of Rush, only darker and more portentous, “Disobedience” rides an angular, oblique rhythm as taut guitars project viscous layers of sound. Whereas “Time (A Conversation with My Therapist)” features tight, platinum guitars and harmonics shifting from shimmering and melodic to thick and serrated.
The final track, “Game Over” blends tangs of industrial percussion with pulsating guitars, forming scintillating surfaces packed with cutting momentum. A dazzling guitar solo infuses the tune with compact, incandescent energy.
With Beyond Drama, AISLES reveals not only their gift for luscious melodies but also their ability to produce ferocious sonic washes. Beyond Drama is excellent and well worth exploring.