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.”
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.
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.
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