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Intronaut - "Prehistoricisms" (CD)

Intronaut - "Prehistoricisms" CD cover image

"Prehistoricisms" track listing:

1. Primordial Soup (1:26)
2. The Literal Black Cloud (5:29)
3. Cavernous Den Of Shame (4:13)
4. Prehistoricisms (6:29)
5. Any Port (7:32)
6. Sundial (7:33)
7. Australopithecus (4:32)
8. The Reptilian Brain (16:20)

Reviewed by on August 4, 2009

"“Prehistoricisms” is the start of something significant that could prove to be the turning point in Intronaut’s career."

Most people associate progressive metal with long songs, pretentious songwriting, and over-indulgence musical work, where solos are required to be at least two minutes long per instrument. While some bands like Dream Theater and Pain Of Salvation fit this image to a tee, others like Porcupine Tree and Mastodon take the odd signature time changes and extended lengths and use it for ambiance effects and mood enhancing.

From the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, California comes Intronaut, a foursome who is well-versed in the latter category. Their 2006 debut “Void” created a stir in the underground with its blend of progressive, sludge, and jazz. “Prehistoricisms” works off this formula and finds the band sinking nicely into their own niche, with the main priority of the album to use the technical prowess of all the members to form intricate soundscapes that shows what the true meaning of progressive is.

Intronaut avoids the pitfalls of the genre by eliminating solos and focusing on instrumental sections that draw the listener into a series of moods that range from peaceful to abrasive. The lyrics are plain and broad, speaking of the disparaging characteristics of life and the mindless of humanity. The musical aspect is given top build, but the lyrics do a fine job of keeping a steady structure together. Vocalist Sacha Dunable spits out these lyrics with a harsh scream that isn’t full of variety, but doesn’t grate on the nerves too much.

Opening with the short instrumental “Primordial Soup,” the album is mainly in the vein of progressive sludge metal, with heavy guitar tones clashing with the non-linear songwriting. The aggression is there, but is kept in check and only brought out in short bursts, usually during the quicker numbers “Cavernous Den Of Shame” and “Australopithecus.” The epic jam session that ends “Sundial,” which lasts over four minutes, is impressive, as is the frantic drum solo that closes out “Any Port.” Intronaut makes up for the lack of lead guitar work by placing an emphasis on the unpredictable rhythm section.

Speaking of which, bassist Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker are one of the most impressive rhythm sections in recent memory. The production has them both up front and center, in particular Lester, whose clean bass lines are the main influence on many of the great melodies on “Prehistoricisms.” While the guitar work of Dunable and new member Dave Timnick is strong, it pales in comparison to Lester’s fast finger work and Walker’s jazzy, complex drum patterns.

The only self-indulgent moment on “Prehistoricisms” is the 16-minute closing instrumental track “The Reptilian Brain.” Split into five parts (Sleep, Eat, Shit, Fight, Fuck), the song starts off with an Indian/Middle Eastern vibe, with a heavy use of the percussion instrument Tabla to add authenticity. The different parts are equally represented, and the differences between them are significant. While the sleep section is dark, yet soothing, the fight section aims for the jugular with its sharp claws, leading up to a mellow, groove-fused conclusion that is the perfect soundtrack for a little late-night action.

Intronaut took the first steps towards making a name for themselves with their second album “Prehistoricisms.” By taking the elements of progressive metal and putting their own twist on it, Intronaut makes giant leaps as musicians and songwriters. The album has a few flaws, mostly in the vocal and guitar work, but there isn’t anything that sticks out like a sore thumb. With a phenomenal rhythm section, who can make a seven minute song sounds like its only four minutes long, and a willingness to sacrifice wankery for atmospheric aura, “Prehistoricisms” is the start of something significant that could prove to be the turning point in Intronaut’s career.

Highs: A showcase of how to work within the progressive genre without sound pretentious, technical skills of each member, rhythm section gets top billing, epic instrumental closer "The Reptilian Brain"

Lows: Vocals could use some variety, one more song of pure aggression like "Cavernous Den Of Shame" would have balanced the album out a bit better.

Bottom line: "Prehistoricisms" does not fall into the sophomore slump, as Intronaut stakes their claim as one of the rising stars in modern-day progressive metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)