As a Canadian, I have met a number of people who think of the country’s inhabitants as goofy, happy-go-lucky plaid wearers. Now that may be true, but we also live in an environment that is cold, harsh and often unforgiving, especially at this time of year. Capturing this dichotomy perfectly is Edmonton, Alberta’s Protosequence. Their technical ferocity, memorable melodicism and deathcore grooves deliver a sound as imposing as the Rockies and as unsettling as the expansive, frozen prairies that the group hails from.
The quintet formed in early 2014. Guitarist and composer Kyle Hunter found what he was searching for in a band able to realize his complex compositions. The limbs of Protosequence were assembled from the remains of two local bands (Anubian and In The Midst Of A Murder) and reanimated as Marshall Payne (vocals), Kyle Hunter (guitar), Dylan Parker (guitar/backing vocals), Logan Vars (drums) and Ryan Schaffler (bass). Before beginning to play shows in late 2014, Payne left the band and Joseph McKee took over vocal duties.
As for their esoteric name, provided by Payne, Protosequence explains: ‘Protosequence is a reference to the original genome where all life began — much like the band, which existed in principle before they even had a presence.‘
The first release from Protosequence arrived in early 2016 with the energetic yet unexpectedly mature Schizophrene (read our review here). Taking cues from All Shall Perish, Fallujah, The Faceless, and Abiotic, the group delivered songs that groove while displaying technical and melodic innovation.
Schaffler left the group in late 2016, with Jacob ‘Two Legs’ Teeple taking over bass duties. Following extensive touring in Western Canada, the quintet doubled down to release Biophagous in the summer of 2017 (another review here). Despite there being just over a year between releases, the approach for the two EPs varied significantly: ‘Schizophrene featured older songs mostly written by Kyle, that the rest of us helped add to and tweak. Biophagous was written as a cohesive effort among all of us.‘
Protosequence have since developed a somewhat consistent songwriting process: ‘For the most part, Kyle and Parker write in Guitar Pro and give it to the rest of us. Then we just jam it out, making changes as they come up. So far it’s working for us, although we’ve had a couple very productive collective writing sessions so that’s always another option.‘
With their location in the Northwest of Canada, Protosequence exist in isolation from the tech-death heavy center of Montreal, the modern progressive metal of Toronto or the musical harbor of Vancouver: ‘It can be a bit of a challenge. You can only play so many successful hometown shows in a period of time before you need to expand outwards. There’s a tonne of oft overlooked awesome bands in the Alberta/Saskatchewan/Manitoba area. There are strong scenes here, but they don’t seem to get the international attention that bands from, say, Vancouver or Montreal get. Hopefully that changes soon and these bands get their due.‘
Their existence as a metal band in this area exists as a strong contrast to the country and folk acts proliferating the Prairie Provinces. However, the group has forged a distinct identity while drawing from a myriad of influences:
‘We’re all attracted to complex, heavy music so it’s only natural for us to play what we would want to be listening to. That’s not to say we only listen to metal though, we all have our unique tastes that bleed unto our style of playing.‘
During their short tenure as an active band, they have already shared stages with groups as diverse as Archspire, Black Crown Initiate, Ne Obliviscaris, and The Schoenberg Automaton. With a new but notable career up to this point, we can only wonder what comes next for the young technical deathcore act. However, it seems like Protosequence have some ideas:
‘Right now, our main goal is getting a van so we can get out to a wider audience. The sooner we get that, the sooner we get out to the rest of Canada, the States and beyond.
We’re [also] in the process of writing a full length. Optimistically, [we’re] hoping to have it released in late 2018, early 2019. So far we have 2 songs written, with a tonne more riff ideas to be turned into songs. The one song is very riff-centric, shreddy tech death, and the other is mid-tempo, melodic, and definitely the most prog song we’ve done yet. We don’t want to pigeon hole ourselves into only writing one style of music.‘