INTRONAUT — The Direction Of Last Things (review)

INTRONAUT — The Direction Of Last Things album cover Album · 2015 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Since their debut on the progressive metal scene in 2006 with “Void,” INTRONAUT have only upped their game incrementally ever since pumping out one amazing album after another pleasing us progressive rock fiends who haven’t outgrown the extreme metal that sustains us. To the chagrin of some of us when an extreme metal band gets too soft, which was the case on “Habitial Levitations” where vocalist Sacha Dunable eschewed the growly extreme madness that makes extreme metal, well… extreme, is usually a sign that a band is on its way on the downside. Just something about shouted, growly and guttural vocals on top of highly distorted and anarchic sounding instrumentation just gives it that extra oomph.

Fears were being raised of going “Opeth” on that album that perhaps the band was toning things down a bit. Perhaps members were having babies, perhaps knitting sweaters for their wives, taking up home brewing or simply joining local cricket clubs. Well any such fears have been erased on their 2015 release THE DIRECTION OF LAST THINGS. Right from the very first glance of blackened birds swirling into the void reminds us of past glories that bring their magnum opus “Prehistoricisms” immediately to mind. The band was back to prove that they have indeed carved out their own brand of progressive atmospheric sludge metal and with this latest release they certainly have done so.

On THE DIRECTION OF LAST THINGS the band really takes all the best aspects of the past and borrows liberally from some of their influences and inserting them into their heavy distorted progressive madness that manages to combine totally new sonicscapes to escape within. Between the odd time signatures of the guitars of Dave Timnick and Sacha Dunable as well as the jazz-infused drumming talents of Danny Walker interacting on seemingly different worlds but threading it all together and the fretless bass maestrohood of Joe Lester, INTRONAUT simply has hit upon a sound and style all their own and with this latest release they only cement that sentiment into an already earned status placing them in the leagues of the influences heard on this album including the likes of Messhugah, Mastodon, Alice In Chains, Oceansize, Tool, Between The Buried And Me and beyond. However this band is certainly more than the sum of their influences thrown into a blender and randomly spewed out.

The beauty of INTRONAUT is how well they can cut and past and perfectly blend a furious storm of dissonance with various forms of abstract melodic development. They really know how to take the model of the structure of verse / chorus / verse / bridge / chorus thing and magnify that principle and into a much more complex mathematical equation, so while they are clearly in experimental mode they pay attention to keeping some sort of mental tracking system that takes patterns and repeats ideas enough as not to lose one’s bearings, however this is indeed complex music and an acquired taste that demands multiple listens to fully comprehend.

What really strikes me more than anything about this album is how well the songs are constructed. They really take the listener on an interesting ride keeping all the past INTRONAUT styles and instrumentation in tact but utilizing an abundance of riffing, vocal styles, pulverizing drumming and atmospheres just dripping in aggression, melancholy and extra-dimensional prowess. The production is also extraordinary as every little sound is animated and allowed to fulfill its potential. It always amazes me at some of the negative reviews and ratings that go with the instant gratification process that music has in general garnered over the decades. This album is one that does not bring that happy joy joy feel upon first listen although it is not without its hooks and addictive qualities, rather it is one of those albums that ratchets up the listener’s senses upon repeated listening. I’m finding this to be so much more satisfying upon repeated bombardments of my senses! While i understand this is truly a progressive metal band in the truest sense of the meaning, i don’t find superficial exposure to be adequate in the eternal art of “getting it”. This is music that took years to put together. Music that is to be worked for is some of the most satisfying music i have found and this definitely falls into that camp for even as an INTRONAUT fan i’ve had to pay special attention to the details.

This is highly recommended for all the obvious sludge metal freaks who like Isis, Mastodon, Baroness, Neurosis and beyond but there are many progressive aspects i am hearing that bring Enslaved, Gorguts, Alice In Chains, Tool and even Meshuggah to mind. Well worth the price of admission and one that only gets better the more you listen to it, at least that has been the case for me. Perhaps not quite as perfect as “Prehistoricisms” but definitely a close second in their discography for me and one that i am convinced will only garner more attention over the time as these days we are inundated with so much music that it’s impossible to digest it all. What a wonderful problem to have!
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