Rlyr Credit: Michael Vallera

Those familiar with Chicago’s heavy-music scene got what they were expecting with Delayer, the 2016 debut record from Chicago experimental-metal supergroup Rlyr. On it Pelican guitarist Trevor De Brauw, Locrian and Cleared drummer Steven Hess, and former Russian Circles/sometimes Bloodiest bassist Colin DeKuiper combined their powers to make an album of expansive instrumental postmetal that steamrolled their aggressive and pretty sides together. On the brand-new Actual Existence (The Flenser), Rlyr bust out of the formula they set up on Delayer and throw the world a curveball: they went ahead and made a pop record. While Hess and DeKuiper lay down hard-hitting, rock-solid rhythms, De Brauw uses the epic song structures as a foundation upon which to explore his appreciation of emo and pop-punk (full disclosure, he and I teamed up for a spot-on Screeching Weasel cover band a few Halloweens ago), layering everything with introspective melodic shifts, nostalgia-inducing chord progressions, and over-the-top finger tapping. Rlyr’s collective heaviness still exists, and their long, knotty, ten-minute-plus arrangements still nod to the prog giants of the 70s—they’re named after a Yes record, after all—but the new album displays a sunnier side of the band than has been heard before. This show doubles as the band’s welcome-home-from-tour gig and the release party for Actual Existence. Rlyr also perform at the Reckless Records on Milwaukee at 4 PM as part of the shop’s Record Store Day celebration.   v