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Album Of The Month May 2017
Artificial Brain | ‘Infrared Horizon’

It’s not often that extreme metal will intersect with the actual goings on of the world.

When it does, it’s worthwhile connecting the dots.

In googling Artificial Brain and the word “facebook”, this reviewer had to sift through all the articles on Facebook’s recently announced plan to use human thoughts to effect real-life user commands.

Facebook VP of Engineering Regina Dugan announced to a global audience that ““It sounds impossible…but it’s closer than you may realize.”

As it turns out, in bringing this enormous slab of forward-thinking metal into the world, the New York band couldn’t address a subject more startlingly timely.

The focus of the album, according to singer Will Smith, is on a future where “artificial beings (are) trying to find themselves…and there’s not much to find that’s pretty.”

Subducted Growls

Having been sucked into their ambitious debut, ‘Labyrinth Constellation’, the expectations were pretty high for this one.

That debut brought forth a heady mix of extremely dense death metal, as ambitious in its dissonant and textured riffing as it was in its total brutality and subducted growls. Full of light and dark, space and density, it was a varied and downright absorbing record.

Given the scale of that album, complete with artwork depicting machines battling huge insects in some forsaken future, there’s been marked tightening of the scope on ‘Infrared Horizon’.

This is borne out through the cover art. A dirty watercolour depicts a single mechanical thing examining, almost thoughtfully, a head of another (pre-existing version?), as huge shapes loom on the skyline.

Bruising Drumming

It’s fitting then, that ‘Floating in Delirium’ opens the album in a style that emphasizes single elements.

A twisting, Gorguts-style chord progression is joined by vomited vocals and throbbing bass, only to be spat back in the listener’s face in all its isolated glory once again. Then we’re off, propelled by the always bruising drumming.

After a lot of listening, what strikes most about ‘Infrared Horizon’ is how the individual elements of the group have so much more room to breathe. Don’t mistake that for anything along the lines of slack – it takes all of sixteen seconds for the opener to hit a glorious clear tremolo pick that is white-hot fast. This is moreso a group working on an almost preternatural level.

If anything, certain parts of this record pop even more than their huge sounding debut. ‘Static Shattering’ attacks with such ferocity that it makes a reach for the volume almost instinctual.

Then there are new, yet natural elements that are brought to the table. The “gang” backing vocals on the title track are a lesson in less-is-more, being a simple element that ties the song together in a wonderfully simple way.

Things reach their apex on closer ‘Ash Eclipse’. Full of diving chords, and with the vocals very much on kill-everything-now mode, it’s perhaps the most intense song of the record. The discordance is continually pushed further and further.

Mandatory Listening

Artificial Brain are mandatory listening for anyone into any aspect of extreme metal.

You could spend all day picking out sections that evoke other artists: from Deathspell Omega, to Discordance Axis, to the last Stargazer album and Suffocation at their most condensed.

It seems fitting that a band that certain owe a measure to Gorguts should have recorded this with Colin Marston, who now occupies the bass position with that most storied band. He’s made sure the bass pops very nicely on here too.

It’s a testament to the album that it makes music this dense seem to fly past. Attention can never be fully retained, but the band seem to manage to make even the garden variety moments on the record sparkle with a kind of music gold dust. It’s got that X factor.

Head and shoulders above the rest of the field in this regard – it’s a record that demands a good pair of headphones and some quality time.

Put plainly, infusing death metal with such thematic richness as this deserves recognition. You won’t need any sort of infrared goggles to detect the band churning out something very special here indeed.

4.6/5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 01/05/17

  1. Flawless from start to finish

  2. open face surgery Says:

    Out Gorguts-ing Gorguts.

  3. good review, excellent album. the subtlety of parts of it are likely to keep me coming back – very much looking forward to a few more detailed listens.

  4. Opensores Says:

    Excellent review and outstanding album.

  5. Lanndoff Says:

    I suppose this is Will Smith of Biolich fame? Biolich was an interesting band. Check out the EP they did. It has core and weepy influences, but because of the Demilich connection (as they started as a rip off and then toured with them) I like it.

  6. I must admit I find it hard to get my head around this style of DM as a rule. Probably guilty of not putting in the time necessary to train my ear/brain to all that’s going on. Something draws me in alright and I want to explore further but as with Gorguts I find my attention drifting 4 or 5 songs in and ultimately frustration at not knowing exactly why or for what reason specifically, which in itself is a strange experience. Ah well.

  7. Skadk666 Says:

    Class album and the first death metal album/band to grab my attention in a long time. I’d lost interest in the genre but this is definitely tickling the ear drums!

  8. Skadk666 Says:

    Class album and the first death metal album/band to grab my attention in a long time. I’d lost interest in the genre but this is definitely tickling the ear drums!

  9. Class musicians. Well produced. No tune. Just the same rubbery/clangy sound throughout over really well played drums. If you’re into this then great but no matter how much of this style of metal I hear, I just hear the same thing over and over again.

  10. Black Shepherd Says:

    First, second, and third full listen to this today. Jaw-dropping stuff, so much class, so much nuance: what they achieve in terms of texture should really be impossible given how heavy they are.

  11. massiveTractor Says:

    for me this is the best of the new age dissonance albums I’ve heard in a long time. There is wavy melody in there akin to blut aus nord but also some ferocious riffs/blasting compared to anything Emperor have produced. Quality stuff.

  12. Wow this is amazing!!

    Reminds me of the first Myrkskog album in places with a dose of Immolation and Gorguts

  13. Yeah, really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

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