Knowing where to start when describing Artificial Brain‘s newest release Infrared Horizon is no easy task. There is something truly refreshing and yet totally familiar about their take on technical death metal. It has melodies that are both haunting and soaring, consequently they are inviting and revolting at the exact same time. It crushes and soars while managing to feel open and simultaneously claustrophobic. The record is amazing, truly, but it’s best described as a perfect pairing of paradoxes, an idyllic marriage of chaos and song writing genius.
The boys in Artificial Brain never relent, even on the more open moments of the songs such as the first lush break in second track “Synthesized Instinct”, which also features one of the best intros in all the death metal tracks I’ve heard through the years. One of the things I really enjoy is the great balance and natural structure of the songs. The tracks seem to build upon themselves and never have a single riff or passage out-of-place. Literally nothing ever seems forced or like it didn’t grow out of the other riff, for lack of a better description. It’s just such an organic and well conceived record that I’m hard pressed to find a major fault with it.
Released April 2017 by Profound Lore Records, a quality independent Canadian label, I’d been hearing good things about Infrared Horizon. Artificial Brain have lived up to the hype! Profound Lore specialize in artists of the most extreme nature and being an early fan of the label I’ve watched them release some of my favourite modern extreme albums. It’s getting hard to keep track, in fact, as the list of their releases grows. They are all of such a high calibre it’s like Profound Lore can’t go wrong. You could almost click “purchase” on anything that the label has to offer and be guaranteed a high quality metal release.
Listening to Infrared Horizon, at times I am reminded of label mates Krallice, Gorguts, Deathspell Omega and Immolation, but it’s impossible to really pin anything down and I feel confident saying this band is truly an original and welcome addition to New York Death Metal and the genre in general. The track “Estranged From Orbit”, which features some amazing changes in vocalist Will Smith’s inflection, is underpinned by some superb melodies that I think any fans of quality guitar playing would appreciate. It’s not to say they sound like Krallice or any of the myriad other bands their Facebook page lists. Nor do they sound like Revocation, guitarist Dan Gargiulo’s former band. Artificial Brain are carving their own surgically clean path of technical death metal, but they do give nods to the music they enjoy.
When I read their list of influences and comparative bands I am not at all shocked by the roster before me. They seem able to draw on the sounds and styles of their many influences without sounding like clones or in any way becoming redundant. “Anchored to the Inlayed Arc” showcases some familiar feeling changes in tempo and dynamics; think Morbid Angel or Immolation, all through it’s duration, even giving the drums room for some of the best blastbeat sections of the album. Possibly my favourite moment on the entire record is at around the 36:02 mark when “Vacant Explorer” begins to open up and break down almost as if it was being consumed by the forces of entropy. It’s a feeling much like you might find on a track from the classic Obscura by Gorguts.
The recording and overall production of this album is also top-notch and makes listening to it pleasurable as well. The guitars are warm and full most of the time, but become sharp and cold when they need to be during the leads. The drums are incredibly well-defined and complement the full bouncy sounding bass. I’ve noticed I am particularly fond of the ride and crash cymbal sounds on the recording as they cut through even the most mathematical passages. The low end on this album is warmly present, filling out the sonic spectrum when the guitars sort of lose it and spazz out, spinning into the nether reaches of the cosmos during the icier leads.
This year has been full of some surprisingly great technical death metal records so far, but I have to say that I was not expecting this high of quality from the genre. Infrared Horizon is an album that might be setting new standards if not at least setting the bar much much higher. If independent metal labels like Profound Lore are releasing such quality albums, the larger labels had better be worried. In my opinion Artificial Brain and Profound Lore have conspired to release what I am sure will remain a death metal masterpiece in the eyes of many for years to come.