When you look at Canada there are a fair few things they do better than anyone else. They've got their maple syrup, a glorious chest-beating national anthem even non-Canadians like to sing along to and a monopoly level control over ice hockey. Alongside these, they've also produced a fair few big name prog bands over the years with the godfathers in Rush standing at the top of the snowy mountain. Following the world-conquering power of Rush the country has subsequently become a haven for young prog bands simply following in their footsteps. Some of these end up giving the genre a boost by exploring new avenues whereas others fall a little short, feeling at times like 'Rush lite'. With the four-piece Slyde, for the most part they do tend to trail in to the latter of these, (but they're certainly one of the better ones towing that line). The band have returned after a short hiatus to produce Back Again, a four track EP which whilst being hard work at times, does contain some little hidden gems within the music (something that you only really become rewarded with through a series of repeat listens).
Opening track Fading immediately sets the tone for the rest of the EP. Yes we're fundamentally dealing with a hugely prog EP here but that doesn't mean the band have spent any time faffing around too much with soundscapes and five minute long intros. The challenge they've ultimately presented for themselves is the fact that as a prog band they're going to have to pack in a hell of a lot to keep this EP as succinct as it should be. Luckily for them they are a very talented bunch, and between the Rush style vocals, the space-rock sound effects and the energetic Coheed and Cambria level of energy they have been able to pack a bit of a punch.
Looking across all four of the tracks, whilst they're not shy of exploding in to some real catchy moments, you do get a sense that at least for the moment this one probably isn't going to spill out of the prog consuming masses. With those catchy, poppy, moments in mind though, if as an EP this was used to help the band try out new things and really grasp what does and doesn't feel right, then we're excited for what they could possibly deliver on a full album. Production wise it is good, but if their next step does end up being a full length release, there's something about it that just needs to be bigger and more grandiose. Don't ditch the space element, embrace it. There are also some aspects though which do need to be reconsidered a little - there are bursts on here where it feels like you're listening to the soundtrack of a Street Fighter game or anime film and whilst this is an element of their sound they seem to have fully taken on consciously, it does weaken it somewhat.
Overall then, this EP shows a promising return for the Canadians who have just come out of a two-year hiatus. The talent is undeniably there, as with most prog bands you listen to, you can tell they've seriously put in the hours, but it is an acquired taste which may well struggle to grasp the attention of a wider audience.