Intronaut - _Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)_
(Century Media, 2013)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (9 out of 10)
Intronaut's brand of metal has been gradually sounding more distinct with each album they've released. Granted, _Void_ wasn't their best effort, but it was a fine debut nonetheless. Things took a sizeable step forward on _Prehistoricisms_ and that's been happening until this year's _Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)_. This is the group's longest playing album (and the wordiest) and it really gives off the impression that the guys have taken good advantage of the three years since _Valley of Smoke_ to craft this record. They remain more about the music than the lyrics, which is mostly a good thing seeing how skillful each of them is at what he does. The lyrics are used to add another dimension to the songs, not as a main focal point.

All the same, four members are still there and _Habitual Levitations_ sees them blossoming even more as individual musicians. They don't shy away from starting the album off with the eight minute long "Killing Birds with Stones" and loading it with polyrhythms and complex time signatures. Guitarists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick move effortlessly between various guitar tones to create a solid wall of sound behind their vocals. Speaking of which, the vocals have come a long way since the band's inception, as a lot more of them is done in clean. The dual harmonizing efforts they've attempted here are quite commendable, especially on "Steps" and "The Way Down". The harsh vocals are still there and in some instances, like on "Sore Sight for Eyes", they are reminiscent of Isis' Aaron Turner but they've obviously opted to utilize them a lot less than they did on earlier albums.

That and maybe some guitar tones are where the Isis influence (or similarities) end. Many people started classifying Intronaut as a post-metal band and just drew the line at that. The term somehow got stuck to them as they progressed from it; despite the fact that it wasn't that fitting to begin with. The aforementioned "Steps" is quite a lesson in sludgy progressiveness with its dreamy bass notes, fluttering drum beats and cascading guitar lines that come together to create a mesmerizing track. "Milk Leg" is of the finest examples of the excellent level of musicianship found on this record. The drums explode in the beginning to allow the heavy section to come in and then the softer section is done in 5/4 with clever variations on the bass, inventive drumming and textured guitar lines.

Drummer Danny Walker has mustered up another eyebrow-raising performance on this album. This man's openness for experimentation never pulls him away from a song's structure. As is customary with Intronaut, Danny gets some space for doing a bit of phrasing on the toms and he does so quite effectively on "Harmonomicon" and the first minute or so on "Eventual". His technical style of playing has always elevated Intronaut's music and his expansive chops and smart cymbal use is a huge part of why _Habitual Levitations_ is such a great album. In addition to his fantastic drumming display on this record, his excellent coordination with bassist Joe Lester produces might fine results indeed.

Putting out a record like _Habitual Levitations_ is another high point in Intronaut's career. Their ability to create an engrossing listening experience where one isn't confused by the clever structures and time signatures is uncanny. They've taken another step on the path to uniqueness in times where scores of young bands are spending their time rehashing '80s and '90s blueprints and trying to make a living off it. Intronaut may sound less 'metal' to some people on this record, but that is a misconception. The increased inclusion of more progressive influences on their music is showing more and more to be a well-taken decision. This is definitely another record for the year end lists.


(article published 28/7/2013)

12/29/2010 A El Naby 8.5 Intronaut - Valley of Smoke
5/25/2007 J Ulrey 10 Intronaut - Void
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