Album Review: INTRONAUT The Direction of Last Things
Intronaut is a special, one-of-a-kind band. Ever since they released their Null EP in 2006, they've been on an upward spiral into the upper echelon of progressive metal, and there's seemingly no stopping them. From the thick sludge displayed on Void to the post-metal melodics Habitual Levitations was full of, Intronaut hasn't made the same album twice, yet every bit of their output can't be confused with any other band. Simply put, no other band plays metal the way Intronaut does, and their latest opus The Direction of Last Things takes the best pieces of each of their albums and blends them together in a primordial soup of perfection.
"Fast Worms" is a romper as far as Intronaut songs go, and it's great to hear vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable's growl once more after its absence on Habitual Levitations. The song is honestly a perfect summarization of Intronaut's career up to this point: it's got heavy-as-hell riffs, inhuman drumming, odd time signatures, jazzy breakdowns, a tasty bass solo and a catchy vocal melody. It's one hell of a way to open the album, and the best part is it only gets better."Digital Gerrymandering" is more reminiscent of the melodic direction the band took on Habitual Levitations, and the tricky polyrhythms and off-beat groove make it impossible to not hear the song out until its end.
The next three songs draw from a diverse range of influences, which of course, Intronaut are able to take and craft masterpieces all their own from. "The Pleasant Surprise" is some sort of sludge-laced, post-Gojira banger of a tune that could be the band's heaviest jam since Void. The stuttering, polyrhythmic riff that drives the song makes as good a hook as it does a circle pit inducer, and it's on this song in particular that the superb mixing job from Devin Townsend takes front and center. "In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing" features a catchy, Cynic-esque vocal melody and an extremely addictive and off-kilter groove, the kind only Intronaut could pull off. It's quite different than anything they've done before, but it's unmistakably them. The guitar interplay between Sacha and Dave Timnick is nothing short of genius, as is the heart-wrenching instrumental passage at end. "Sol Ponticello" borrows tricks from Between the Buried and Me, Meshuggah and Tool to great success, and its syncopated rhythms and atmospheric melodies will have you bobbing your head from start to finish.
It's worth mentioning that the rhythm section of Joe Lester and Danny Walker shine more than they ever have before on The Direction of Last Things. Not only do the drums sound better than they have on any previous Intronaut album, but Danny's performance is hands-down the best of his career thus far. He proves yet again that he's one of the most creative, technical and versatile in all of metal, and this is an album that drummers both novice and veteran will try to figure out for years to come. His tasteful playing style serves as the perfect compliment to Joe's silky smooth bass lines, and together they're unstoppable.
With Intronaut being the master songwriters they are, each song on The Direction of Last Things has its own little quirks that make the album as whole very easy to keep coming back to. The title track could be construed as their take on djent, with its Meshuggah-worshipping main riff, but it's no mere rip off and Intronaut makes it more compelling and interesting than 90% of the other bands in the genre. The album closes on a high note with "City Hymnal," whose haunting melody and spacious atmospherics will enter your brain and never leave.
The musical high left by The Direction of Last Things is one that needs no assistance from a certain plant, as the incredible music itself is enough of a drug that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions and ultimately leave you feeling more than satisfied. This album is an important tome in Intronaut's adept legacy as a band, and whatever direction they decide to go after this, they've proved that they'll always be masters of their craft and one of the best bands of this generation.