REVIEW: INTERLOPER – “Search Party”
While Interloper have been making the rounds for a while, with releases dating back over five years, it won’t be till June 11th, 2021 that this progressive outfit finally presents their debut, full-length album, ‘Search Party.’ With a handful of singles and one EP under their belt, it’s all been leading up to this moment, and the trio put their best foot forward with a strong offering. Yet ‘Search Party’ is an album that lives up to its name. Not pioneering in any real sense, it practices, instead, a more holistic approach, searching out a sound still in the early stages of development.
Making for an athletic opener, “Pathkeeper” sprints between brawny guitar riffs, dueling solos, and layered vocals that lord over the instrumentation. When combined with the mixing and mastering choices by Joey Virrueta the song, and indeed much of the album, sonically echoes the tonality of Bullet For My Valentine’s ‘Fever’ era. This comes as a surprise given that the band considers themselves a prog-outfit, but it’s a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Heard once again on “Bound to Fall,” which caters to the band’s heavier tastes, incorporating elements of black metal and prog within its arrangement. A particularly impressive feat from singer/guitarist Andrew Virrueta, interweaving these juxtaposed dynamics with fluency.
Interloper casts a wide net when it comes to drawing on those who paved the way for them. Traces of prog elites such as Opeth, Ne Obliviscaris, and even Porcupine Tree and Karnivool can be heard throughout ‘Search Party’, but with minimal cohesion, leaving the album sounding, at times, like it being eclipsed by its influences. Indeed, certain tracks sound more like compromises between three members contending to have their voices heard, as opposed to a united collective with something to say. Leaving tracks such as the messy “Wishing You Well” sounding out of place, while the thrash metal-esque “Baring Teeth’s” arrangement feels completely random, even for a prog band.
Yet leading singles “Drift,” as well the title track “Search Party,” demonstrate that when it all comes together, the result can be thrilling. Nevermore so than in “Dreamland”, which is a triumph dripping with duality, despite its anti-climactic fadeout. Virrueta’s soft, melodic harmonies float above the furious drumming courtesy of Aaron Stechauner, again juxtaposing diametrically opposed elements, this time erupting to create the album’s centerpiece.
Most of us, at some point, have found ourselves too short to ride the big rollercoaster, vowing to return one day with a fast pass to claim our birthright. Meanwhile, you hop grumbling onto the smaller one. Similarly with ‘Search Party,’ which is not the album to catapult Interloper into the stratosphere. At best, it might gently toss them on an upward trajectory. But it still makes for a fascinating, and often enjoyable listen. While many accept the ridiculous notion that a person, song, or even opinion should be without fault from the point of inception, Interloper invite their fans to grow with them, warts and all, in their quest for discovery. As such, ‘Search Party’ offers an often exciting glance into the rollercoaster future this band might yet have (with an irresistibly cheeky cover of Duran Duran’s Rio tagged on at the end). They’re just not tall enough yet.