Sure, Intronaut play what could be called Prog Metal with a bit of Post Metal thrown in, but that is just a starting point for discussion. Rush and King Crimson are both Prog bands but also incredibly different. I would say Intronaut is Prog in the way their music challenges the listener. It is as if one is gently tapped, or, at times, viscerally slapped in the face becoming an active participant in the music. The mood fluctuates throughout all points in between and the result is an album worthy of the title, a living, animated work of art. Fluid Existential Inversions is the band’s sixth full-length record since forming back in 2004 and will be released Friday, February 28, 2020.
Intronaut is a band unafraid of tone. With such an ambitious yet still raw rhythm guitar tone, there is simply no hiding. Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick employ a variety of effects in the course of the album often layering multiple effects at a time between the two, but their core tone is never buried. It is therefore exciting to hear the way these musicians, including Joe Lester’s spirited, nuanced bass playing, explore the multi-dimensional characteristics of heavy and how it can, therefore, be elaborated. As one gets lost in the music, it is very much akin to being on a journey – the whole is constantly being redefined by the details. In the times the band is momentarily locked in for one of their tight, jagged grooves, they are truly unstoppable. In many ways, Intronaut have always struck me as an American Cult of Luna, though their material is a lot more accessible than the Swedes more angular approach.
The first song, “Procurement of the Victuals,” is not just a throw-away intro. This is a vitriolic, bludgeoning, a headstock-swinging anthem to open the ears and properly precede the second track, the mighty “Cubensis”. This track is massive! Seated at the center of the action is a dirty bass line with a wah/vocoder giving it a growling type effect. When the guitar comes in, it is with a pummeling syncopation locked in with the drums. The band shows that its flair for experimentation is to carefully adorn already entrancing chord progressions. The intensity in the delivery as the band goes through many changes never wanes. What I admire most about this band is on full display here: the band’s ability to make full, sometimes complex-sounding music by layering powerful riffs that compliment each other melodically and rhythmically with the poise to know when to let a chord resonate as well as when to just let the music breathe. As art and music are a function of life, they too need the benefit of oxygen or simply, space. The latter section of the song is a long romp through various chord progressions, effects, and all, like before, revolving around the brilliant bass line.
The production on this album is outstanding. With so many varied elements comprising the music, it must have been a challenge in the studio to get everything perfectly leveled, but judging by the sound, it comes across seamless. The bass drum sound is solid, an almost-militant-sounding pulse that has a forceful attack yet without a processed sound. The bass is such an integral instrument in this group and is thus given its due attention with a round sound full of mid-level punch and the perfect growl when called for. The two guitars are perfectly split allowing for one to clearly distinguish the individual parts when listening closely. As one becomes further locked into the listening experience, it becomes apparent that Intronaut is one of those bands that can obviously pull off just about anything though they don’t always feel they have to show off or be complex just for the sake of being complex. This is intelligently written and nobly conceived music with a stark focus on the song. Thus, this is an album full of memorable songs blessed by the talent and creativity utilized to give birth to them.
“The Cull,” the third track, is an excellent blend of an extremely brutal, dissonant main riff and how it serves as the launching pad for a song that takes such strikingly myriad turns across as many atmospheres. The interlude in the middle to the latter part of the song is calming and peaceful, a breath of tranquility. The clean vocals are solid and thankfully there is a distinct lack of any whiny, nasal-sounding drudgery. The fifth track, “Speaking of Orbs,” begins with a haunting, chiming type of guitar riff and suddenly, the sound just expands with a grimy bassline and some huge guitar chords. The echoing string bends that ring out with the progression is a subtle touch that lends to a mature, yet emotive effect overall. Some of the album’s most sinister grooves are to be found here accented with staccato palm-muted chugging.
Intronaut have truly released a monster of an album. By focusing on meaty groove-based material, the band can reap a muscular core with which to expand upon. In exploring the peaks and valleys the band tread in the material, one is privileged to co-create a new reality. This is a band that is righteously making the case for Modern Metal. With an album loaded with such diversity, the limits are truly the boundaries of imagination.