It has been a while since we have been blessed with some new INTRONAUT material. It has been so long that some of the group’s magic seemed to have vanished, leaving people wondering whether we would be hearing any new tunes from them ever again. But lo and behold, the American masters of sludgy modern prog metal have returned once again with their brand new effort, ”Fluid Existential Inversions.”
What a glorious return it has turned out to be! The album carries some very nostalgic charm with it, straight from records such as ”Valley of Smoke” and ”Habitual Levitations,” with the expected injection of MASTODONESQUE feelings combined with vibes from bands like THE OCEAN and ISIS. There are some heavy riffs, tight grooves, and hazier moments that fill the soundscape with wanderlust and excitement.
INTRONAUT explore their heavier side on tracks like ”Contrapasso” and ”Pangloss,” which see the band chugging out some great riffs and grooves, evocative of the above-mentioned riff machines. The proggier acrobatics of the group enter the picture on cuts like ”Cubensis,” ”Check Your Misfortune,” and ”Sour Everythings,” which all explore different rhythms and emotions, while still being coherent in their atmosphere and all-around development of the themes.
The record is, of course, filled with some great moods, atmospheres, and smoke-filled scenes. Songs like ”The Cull” and ”Speaking of Orbs” have some incredible moments of haze and trance-inducing sound tapestries, which are all built with great finesse. While the atmospheres don’t always match the levels of bands like THE OCEAN or PELICAN, they are still very mesmerizing or relaxing.
Make no mistake: even though there are definitely different elements on the record, the band juggles all of these characteristics to create a huge atmosphere for the listener’s pleasure. The songs really feel like trips through your own psyche, sometimes sounding foreboding and sometimes comforting.
It’s also very easy to overlook how skillful these musicians are, since the compositions take center stage. The band is filled with virtuosos that bring these mental images to life with astounding mastery of their instruments. One thing on the record that is left to be desired, is the presence of bass. Joe Lester is an amazing bass player with great tone and technique, but very rarely does he get a spot to showcase his chops in the way that he deserves. ”Tripolar” might be one of the few songs that have entire sections driven by his playing.
”Fluid Existential Inversions” is a return that was worth the considerable wait. The record contains some superb soundscapes supported by fat riffs, crunchy harmonies, and driving grooves laid down by skilled musicians. While simultaneously being both nostalgic and fresh sounding, the whole album really leaves you wanting more as soon as possible. I really hope we don’t have to wait for five years for the follow-up.
1. Procurement Of The Victuals
3. The Cull
5. Speaking Of Orbs
7. Check Your Misfortune
9. Sour Everythings
Sacha Dunable – guitar, vocals
Joe Lester – bass
Dave Timnick – guitar, vocals, percussion
Metal Blade Records