Three years ago, Intronaut released what is widely considered their breakthrough record, Valley of Smoke. This record landed the band on some of the biggest tours they have ever done, including a stint with legends Tool on their arena tour. I called this record the 2nd greatest album of 2010, next to Shining’s landmark record Blackjazz. This year, both bands are releasing a record, and Intronaut is first out of the gate with another stoneriffic title for a record: Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones). And despite the total lack of screaming on this record, it’s their best work yet.
The rhythm of this band – for which it is known to a lot of folks – are even more settling into the band, meaning that although they’re still instantly recognizable, it feels as if the whole band is working as a whole to create something beautiful. Take for example the first track on the record, Killing Birds With Stones. About a third of the way through, all of the band cuts out to just guitarists Dave Timnick and Sacha Dunable riffing off of each other. Then, Joe Lester, the bassist, and drummer Danny Walker add a subtle, yet noticeable rhythm to the background. It seems to be even more about the song being more than the sum of its parts. Furthermore, Sacha’s voice is now shared with Dave’s voice in equal measure – most of the vocals have to do with harmonies by the both of them, done to great effect. Now, the best way to view this record is in two parts. The first part, the heavier part, contains some of the chunkiest riffs ever committed to tape. Yeah, there’s no screaming, but it’s still all incredibly heavy. Most of the songs on this half will definitely get you to bang your head, even if the polyrhythms are confusing. The best example of this is Steps. I don’t think there’s been a song released this year that is so commanding to just bang your head – not necessarily jump in the pit (there’s Nails for that) but just flat out bang your head.
After lead single Milk Leg plays (track 5 on this record), the album takes a decidedly softer turn. There’s a lot more noodling on this part, even going into jazz territory on the end of Harmonomicon, one of the highlights of this record. Particularly shocking is seeing how the aforementioned rhythm section still comes out pronounced despite the very chordal playing on this half. The very last song on this record, The Way Down, goes into very obvious post-rock territory. The distortion we’ve seen is now quite diluted, giving way to a lot of drone. Still, they manage to break these boundaries as well. For example, the vocals are incredibly anthemic – this is something you actually sing along to! I’ve never been able to say that about any Intronaut song before. Also, the last five seconds of this song are the greatest moment in music history.
Overall, Intronaut once again totally destroy this idea of what heavy is. They have no trouble swarming you with polyrhythms and distorted harmonies as they’ve done before, but they have added so many more elements into this release – and unlike the last djent-core record you’ve heard they all make sense. Metal and beauty, all in the same release. It’s going to take something amazing to top this record this year.
01. Killing Birds With Stones
02. The Welding
04. Sore Sight For Eyes
05. Milk Leg 06. Harmonomicon
08. Blood From a Stone
09. The Way Down
Genre: Progressive Metal
Record Label: Century Media Records