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Album Review: INTRONAUT Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)

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If your idea of heaviness is congruent with screamed vocals, you won't find Habitual Levitations any uptick in brutality over the previous Intronaut album, Valley of Smoke. If you've read any band interviews in the last couple of years you know by now that the sludge groans are a thing of the past, which is all for the best considering the opened up, expansive sound the band have developed for themselves over the past few albums.

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There are plenty of sheer body riffs to be had here, ie. the Meshuggah-like chug in the otherwise airy "The Way Down", the momentarily startling anachronism of the nu-metal riff introducing "The Welding", the syrupy rising and falling motif in "Steps"… while at the same time no song relies entirely on headbanging ferocity to get its point across.

With the exception of the nearly ambient "Blood from a Stone" – at three minutes easily the shortest track on the record – each song is a well considered yet temperamental juxtaposition of cerebral, spacey phonics and the kind of staggering breakdown riffs that most bands would build their entire career around (like the doozy that sneaks up on you three minutes into album opener "Killing Birds With Stones").

I can say that Habitual Levitations represents the band's most successful alchemy to date of their early, sludge-heavy groove and the later, more textural work. The physical and the intellectual are finally at one here. Is it Intronaut's best album? I tend to shy away from such comparisons, especially for bands with a unique palette and singular vision… it's an unfair analogy since it's impossible to recapture the revelation of witnessing that previously untapped combination of sounds and influences for the first time. It's doubly hard for an ensemble like Intronaut, who  arrived fully formed with seemingly little room for improvement, instrumentally or otherwise. 

But yeah, if you like time signature-impaired riffs… is it cheating if I say the word "djent" only to mention that I refuse to use the word "djent"?

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