Infrared Horizon by Artificial BrainRelease date: April 21, 2017
Label: Profound Lore Records
While I wouldn’t dive so far into the dismissive and cliché remark that “metal is dying”, the fact of the matter is that some of its key genres have been struggling to find its worthy innovators and successors in recent years. Beyond the copycat bands and the nostalgia-driven “revival” movements, few are the bands innovative enough to bring newfound relevancy to the sound of old-school thrash or death metal without dwelling on the past. As contradictory as the last sentence may sound, Artificial Brain counts as one of the few acts to have dusted off the limiting ‘old-school’ prefix off the sounds of 90s’ death metal, bringing its raw strain of aggression to the forefront as one of the genre’s most exciting acts. After a critically praised debut album, the New York based band return here with Infrared Horizon, a heavier, darker and all-around deeper exploration into the realms of otherworldly cosmic horror.
Be warned, enticed reader, for refreshing as a sound as they may have, Artificial Brain’s Infrared Horizon presents itself as even less of an inviting listen to the uninitiated of the genre than its predecessor. To grossly summarise what is in store for the curious listeners, the New York based act play a dark, jangly strain of extreme metal hinting towards the likes of Immolation and Gorguts, complete with a unique, otherworldly sci-fi edge.
From start to finish, the band sweeps you off your feet in a whirlwind of blast beats and dissonant, angular riffs that will keep you in a dizzying haze all throughout the records’ ten tracks. The album leaves little space to regather one’s composure in between its relentless onslaughts of aggression. Artificial Brain’s music also carries a heavy, atmospheric element, conveyed through the thick, punishing low end riffs and the bleak, sinister black metal leads. Whether it’s the monstrous, gurgling growls, the disjointed, stalling riffs and drumming or even the melodic lines delivered by the shrill tremolo picked lead guitars, what’s most disconcerting about Artificial Brain’s music is that none of it sounds human yet every second of it feels alive.
The drumming on this record is downright phenomenal on here. Keith Abrami shows incredible stamina and precision throughout the record, effortlessly juggling between confusing grooves throughout the songs’ lunatic cadences. While the instrumental section undeniably gets the spotlight, Will’s slimy, putrid vocals add a crucial feature to the band’s alien, apocalyptic ambience. Once again, Colin Marston does a fantastic job at giving the record enough depth to cater to the band’s technical side all the while retaining a raw, murky old-school feel.
The relentless pacing of the record can become a little overwhelming at times (especially for newcomers to the genre), although a few listens will eventually ease you into it. Infrared Horizon is an opaque, disorienting listen that rewards only those listeners that are most attentive to the band’s distinct musical syntax. For this reason, I recommend at least a couple of hearings in order to properly assess and appreciate the density and complexity of some of the songs.
Despite being a little less versatile than its predecessor, Infrared Horizon is a consistent, solid and focused effort that further confirms Artificial Brain’s place amongst death metal’s most innovative recent acts. With its bleak portrayal of impeding doom set in the midst of hostile, galactic wastelands, Artificial Brain’s sophomore record is a disturbing, alienating album by a band driven by unique, uncompromising creativity.