Monday, February 21, 2011

Intronaut - Valley Of Smoke

Valley Of Smoke
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Los Angeles (California) based outfit Intronaut may not be one of the biggest names within the progressive rock/metal realm, but they’ve certainly earned themselves plenty of high acclaim with their two full-length releases to date (2006’s ‘Void’ and 2008’s ‘Prehistoricisms’). Now returning with their third effort ‘Valley Of Smoke’, the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick, bassist Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker) have put together one of their most daring and different sounding releases, and one that’s likely to earn the band as much applause from their devoted following, as it will cause some concern.
The opening track ‘Elegy’ (Which also happens to be the first single from the album) is quick to reveal Intronaut’s constantly evolving sound, with the vocal presence throughout the song representing the biggest shift in direction for the band. The growled vocals of the past are still evident in places, but for the most part, Dunable and Timnick stick primarily to a more melodic style on the vocal front, which is something altogether unexpected and something that takes a little getting used to. On the musical front, the band’s trademark thick grooves are still ever present, as too are the complex time changes and subtle shifts in moods and tempos throughout.
The moody and atmospheric ‘Above’ is notable for Walker’s upfront and dominating percussion work and the greater use of melody and harmonised work within the vocals, while ‘Miasma’ combines the aggressive nature of Intronaut’s past, with their newfound vocal approach and sense of melody (Especially toward the latter half where the gentle guitars are complimented by Lester’s heavy bass presence), which effectively makes the song really stand out as one of the album’s stronger and more memorable efforts.
Both ‘Sunderance’ and ‘Past Tense’ are by far the most straight-forward and aggressive sounding numbers on the album, and helps to shake things up as a whole, while ‘Core Relations’ and ‘Below’ are easily the more accessible and catchy efforts put together by the band yet.
Finishing up the album is the lengthy chilled out instrumental title track ‘Valley Of Smoke’, which will no doubt draw a lot of attention with a guest appearance from Tool bassist Justin Chancellor. Although the song is a little excessive in length, there are enough chops and changes to keep things interesting and earn its place alongside the formerly mentioned efforts as another of the album’s stronger sounding experiments.
Intronaut have never been the kind of band to make the same album twice, and ‘Valley Of Smoke’ certainly represents a big shift in direction. While I’m not entirely convinced that ‘Valley Of Smoke’ is as strong as their former efforts, I will admit that Intronaut have well and truly put together a strong album that will definitely earn them some well deserved attention.

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© Justin Donnelly