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Intronaut - "Valley Of Smoke" (CD)

Intronaut - "Valley Of Smoke" CD cover image

"Valley Of Smoke" track listing:

1. Elegy
2. Above
3. Miasma
4. Sunderance
5. Core Relations
6. Below
7. Valley of Smoke
8. Past Tense

Reviewed by on November 12, 2010

"'Valley of Smoke,' while still an immensely heavy effort, also includes a large jazz influence on the song writing. The guitars dance in and out of jazzy interludes and the bass has a constant upbeat feel to it."

The genre of post-metal has been one that has seen tremendous growth over the past decade. Bands such as Neurosis , Isis, and genre front runners Tool have been expanding the craft and creating songs of both epic length and epic creativity. While not the most popular form of metal, California’s Intronaut is another band in the field that is taking the genre of post-metal to new heights. The band’s latest, “Valley of Smoke,” and third studio album overall, crosses endless musical territories that includes everything from sludge to progressive and even the occasional nod to death and thrash. “Valley of Smoke” is a concept album that maintains a definitive energy and vibe, creating another defining pillar in the musical world of post-metal and rock.

Beginning with “Elegy,” Intronaut stakes its claim to being one of the top acts in its genre today. A thundering guitar riff leads off into a progressive metal landscape that reaches many peaks and valleys, while haunting vocals ring throughout. The vocals on this album are quite melodic and are also a vast improvement to that of earlier work and become instantly identifiable. While some may not like the slightly more accessible style of the vocals on this record, they still maintain that Intronaut sound. As with “Elegy” and every song on the record everything is improved enough to give it that fresh and new sound, while still having enough of that original charm that older fans will be looking for.

“Valley of Smoke,” while still an immensely heavy effort, also includes a large jazz influence on the song writing. The guitars dance in and out of jazzy interludes and the bass has a constant upbeat feel to it. Perhaps the best song on the record and by far the most jazz-inclusive comes in the form of “Core Relations.” An absolutely outstanding piece of music, “Core Relations” is a constant battle between the world of intense heavy metal and intellectual jazz. Other bands, many bands, are in the practice of blending metal with a jazz influenced take on song-writing, but very few have done it so well. Everything from the smoothness of the bass to the delay effect on the lead guitar works together as one magical force. “Core Relations” will stand the test of time as one of Intronaut’s finest compositions.

Post-metal has long been a genre for progressive metal junkies, acid droppers, and art nerds, but with Intronaut’s third studio effort the door has been opened to a wide range of other people. While an overly melodic record, there is still plenty left for fans of excessive heaviness to fall in love with. “Valley of Smoke” has not only made a career defining statement for the band but will surely go down as one of the best records released in 2010, and a mainstay in the post-metal genre for all others to look up to.

Highs: An effortless combination of heaviness, melody, and the occasional burst of jazz.

Lows: The title track drags on for a minute or two longer than it should.

Bottom line: A fantastic post-metal album that further expands the genre, combining melody with heavy.

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)