Instrumental metal has been a part of metal almost as long as the genre has been around, drawing influence from a bewildering array of jazz, progressive rock and classical influences. While burgeoning in the 80s with rock guitarists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen, a specific branch of genre has experienced an increase in interest in latter years with the rise of Animals As Leaders and Intervals to name but a couple. Carrying on in this vein with top-drawer technical abilities are Dreamwaves, a new band formed around the Brighton area from a mixture of previous bands and college connections.
The term Dreamwaves may be associated with ambient and electronica circles , but to guitarist David Lovejoy it simply fit with their style of music. “It took us forever to agree on it though!” Bassist Craig Sullivan expands on the answer: “I like it because it isn’t a typical metal name or one usually associated with the genre, which relates to us because we’re trying to bring a new flavour to the metal scene.” Their first EP Elements is a honed slice of the band’s bright and cheerful style, melding technical mastery with programmed piano and orchestration in a fashion that belies the band’s collective youth.
Each of the four tracks stand strong; ‘Nines’ hares out the gate with frenetic work, while ‘Breeze’ takes a more laidback approach, showcasing the gorgeous piano work interwoven with the metallic riffs. To dispel a misconception, the track ‘Focus’ is not a tribute to the progressive metal legends Cynic. That said, the band were once described as ‘a boyband doing a tribute to Cynic’ at one of their shows, “which I think is my favourite description of us ever,” David comments good-naturedly.
Also during the interview we bring up David’s other project Sorrow Plagues, which delves into atmospheric black metal, and his old band Callista which were an emotional hardcore outfit.  When asked what drew David into instrumental metal, he responds: “Bands like Intervals, Animals as Leaders and Polyphia initially drew me to start an instrumental band. Their music is incredibly engaging without the need for a singer.” In terms of dividing the writing time between different outlets, his tip is that he’s “mainly focused on one project at a time, although I will mix and match a little bit depending on how I feel.” Instrumental music has also affected Craig’s writing; Dreamwaves is the first band where “the songs actually challenge me and force me to improve my playing and think of my instrument in a different way. Especially as I now use a 6 string bass for this band, and previously in other bands I had only played 4.”
As mentioned earlier, instrumental metal has experienced a resurgence in interest, but in Craig’s view the style never really went away. He concedes the ‘tech scene’ spearheaded by Meshuggah and SikTh have been part of the growth in popularity. “Instrumental music has always been around but I think now it’s definitely growing in popularity – in the metal scene especially – and hopefully will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.”
While the band are strictly instrumental, they often post licks and solos from bands they admire, with Intervals and Scar Symmetry being two of the most recent  – and David mentions a love of Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie) – “very underrated guitarist!” he remarks off the cuff. Coming back to covers, he cryptically states: “We are definitely considering doing instrumental covers of songs, we have a very ‘special’ one planned for the future. But most likely not a song you’ll be expecting.”
While we’re on the subject of future plans, the next few years hold promising things for Dreamwaves. In the next five years, David focuses on the studio side of operations: “I’m hoping that we’ll have 1 or 2 full-length albums out by then and touring on a regular basis!” Craig then takes up that thread, expanding the band’s reputation beyond UK borders: “I’d like to be doing tours abroad in Europe etc. Doing an American tour would be awesome!” 
Ending on this optimistic note, the band are currently running on a high of success, having recently signed with Infectious Sounds for the release of Elements.  With their heads firmly screwed on and plans in place to establish their name, Dreamwaves have a promising career ahead of them and are living proof that ‘instrumetal’ is in good hands for the next generation.
Elements EP will be available digitally and on CD on August 15th via Infectious Sounds. You can check out Dreamwaves on Facebook here and Bandcamp here. Thanks to the band for their time, and Tom for the opportunity.
1. Google reveals – among other things – a Last FM page about the genre dreamwave – a subsection of synth-pop.
2. Sorrow Plagues on Bandcamp and Callista on Bandcamp.
3. Links to videos of Scar Symmetry and Intervals covers.
4. This interview was conducted pre-Brexit.
5. Facebook announcement.