The second album from US tech-death phenomenon Artificial Brain picks up where Labyrinth Constellation left off. Steeped in Sci-Fi and astronomy themes lyrically, these guys have also managed to pick up a strange sound of their own to match the verbiage. Even if technical death metal usually isn’t quite as strictly defined as, say, brutal death metal, there are still certain features that are typical of the genre. All of these are here – rhythmic variations, half disjointed crazy melodies, decent production and more – but Artificial Brain sure as hell do a lot of things differently as well.
For a death metal album, there’s very little palm muting going on. That may sound like a technicality, and is of course not unheard of on other DM albums, but the play style here is often almost black metal like in its all-out, open string abandon. The regular appearance of screaming, non-grunting vocals adds to this impression, and occasionally the sound becomes blackened enough to approach Dissection. That is very occasionally, though, for overall the melodies, arrangements and even atmosphere remain a shrine to tech-death. Original tech-death, but still tech-death.
Infrared Horizon keeps your attention, or at least my attention, better than many other albums. It is certainly not immediately accessible, but to jaded and elderly listeners such as my esteemed self that very fact makes it that much more interesting already on the first play-through. Songs like “Estranged from Orbit” and “Mist Like Mercury” makes you want to dissect them – listen again and again to discover all the interesting little innovations happening constantly in the complex, ordered chaos. While the screaming in this case don’t do an awful lot for me, it doesn’t hurt, and the growls/grunts are extremely convincing, guttural and powerful.
The lyrics are a final bonus, with a brilliant mixture of Sci-Fi, poetry and occasional vulgarity. Or how do ya like these lines here from the title track: “Feel them close in as they stare (infrared horizon)/Eyes like piss-holes in the snow (infrared horizon)” Screw you, Ray Bradbury!
In all seriousness, this is a great album. It could well be one of Archaic Triad’s death metal favorites so far this year. That is saying something, since this has been a great year for death metal. It’s been out for a few months, but is still available on digipak CD and digital download from Profound Lore Records. No brave new world – only technical death metal!