|Key Release: Prehistoricisms (2008)|
Just when you think Intronaut can’t twist and grow any more, it knocks down another musical wall and continues on its way. This nigh-unclassifiable Californian quartet has changed the game with every release – from Meshuggah-slaying debut Void to stoner-jazz tour-de-force Valley of Smoke, every album has been different from the last and enjoyable for new reasons. It’s fascinating listening to the group’s breakthrough opus Prehistoricisms and hearing the difference between two consecutive songs; take, for instance, the meticulously planned polyrhythms and explosive drumming of “Australopithecus”, immediately followed by “The Reptile Brain,” whose impressively authentic Indian raga impression foregoes technicality entirely for an otherworldly trip into Eastern melody and meditation.
In contrast to the way bands like Between the Buried and Me and Periphery aim to impress with instrumental wizardry, Intronaut’s virtuosity supports a more emotional purpose. Danny Walker and Joe Lester comprise one of the more formidable rhythm sections in heavy music, but rather than being flashy, their creative arrangements add prodigious depth to songs. With Intronaut’s increased emphasis on atmospheric elements, this holistic approach to songwriting is integral to the success of its most recent albums.
Continuing its evolution from a sludge metal outfit to a progressive powerhouse, Intronaut landed a headlining tour this summer in support of its newest album, Habitual Levitations. The group’s most accessible effort yet – and the first without harsh vocals – Levitations is an example of an excellent metal band showing that they’re just plain an excellent band. While Cynic and Opeth have fans grumbling about their lighter new directions, it’s hard to lament the way that Intronaut is going about its business. Music lovers no longer have an excuse to disregard metal as a whole for being too “angry” or “mindless” — Intronaut has been knocking on the door for years, and if it keeps up its current pace, it just might blow the roof off popular notions of what metal is capable of.