Song of the Day: Olly Steele, “Open” (2021)

YouTube came through for me in a major way this week when it served up this insanely awesome track by U.K. guitarist Olly Steele. I had been rediscovering younger progressive shred acts like Intervals and Polyphia that I started getting into several years ago, watching mind-bending playthrough videos that generally just make me want to torch my instruments and call it a day. But the often over-funnelled YouTube algorithm took a break and actually served me up something related but new to me, and I almost immediately knew it was gonna be just what I was looking for.

I don't know what people are calling this stuff these days, so I'll just say it's technical and progressive instrumental shred metal with some of that contemporary "djent"-y percussiveness and whatnot. The playthrough is extra cool because it really illustrates how all-over-the-place the riffs jump around and remain constantly in motion. Wild. I love the melodic edge, too—just really strong writing overall. The part that kicks in at 0:43 is freakout-level amazing—one of the best such passages I've heard in at least five years, if not longer

It seems that Olly's also in a band called Monuments that I've somehow managed not to hear since their 2012 debut, but... as old and stubborn as I am, I suppose that's actually not much of a surprise. I'll have to investigate their output based on the strengths of this solo work.

The song-at-a-time release format is tough for me to deal with, so I'm crossing my fingers for a proper Olly Steele album at some point, but I'll take what I can get. All four tracks on Bandcamp (one of which features vocals by Ian Kenny from Karnivool)—just £1 apiece!—are really killer, so I'm eager to hear more. You can find 'em on Spotify and all that as well.