Intronaut are a Prog Metal band who up until this point, it’s fair to say, have pretty much gone under the radar. With The Direction Of Last Things (Century Media) the band are on studio album number five and, not to completely suggest that it is only now they’ve finally hit the sweet spot, but with this record Intronaut have collated all of the best bits and pieces from their previous work and found the kind of inspiration which might just squeeze this into a few ‘Album of the Year’ lists.
Across the album we find Intronaut mixing expansive sounds with heavy brutality via a truly masterful level of precision. As far as wider inspiration is concerned, there’s definitely a bit of Opeth and Mastodon (Crack The Skye era) rooted at the core with all the barmy eclectic, yet ridiculously perfect, sounds you might expect from the likes of King Crimson. As a scene, Prog Metal has certainly been shooting out some great bands recently, and whilst album number five probably means they’re far more seasoned than some of the younger bands pushing through, The Direction Of Last Things will likely elevate Intronaut into a far wider consciousness, forming for many a complete introduction to the band.
The album kicks off with the track ‘Fast Worms’ which does in fact sound like a neurotic tribute to the popular computer game franchise Worms, as a little 8-bit sounding intro suddenly makes way for some absolutely crushing riffs. Even if it has absolutely nothing to do with it, if you’ve ever played Worms before this track actually perfectly epitomises the eerie atmospherics which capitulates into a blaze of chaos which you would tend to experience on screen. Its sudden grasp away from the powerful riffs into an atmospheric soundscape took some getting used to, but after a few spins you’ll be fully on board.
To be honest, this approach is true of the album as a whole; it’s not overly accessible and it’s therefore likely that along the way they may lose a few people. When some of the tracks veer off into the wilderness, you do find yourself longing for the next explosion of riffs, and may even fast forward till you find them. A die hard Prog Metal fan will be critical of that sentence, but the key to albums like this is to make every element interesting and frankly Intronaut are better at doing the heavy than they are the calm – for example in a head to head the tracks ‘The Pleasant Surprise’ and ‘The Direction Of Last Things’ highlights this perfectly.
Overall then, with their fifth studio release, Intronaut have certainly made their mark once again in the prog metal world. However, where so many of these bands fall down with these huge sounding albums is the fact that they need to ensure every single minute is as engaging as the last, and it is difficult to argue that they’ve actually achieved this. It needs repeat listens – it is “one of those” which does get better with each spin, but even so whilst a large section of the Prog Metal community will probably salivate all over it, an equal sized section will probably allow it to pass them by. That said, the strong production does make it an excellent listening experience, but the fact you’re left questioning whether it’s quite so great even after several listens says a lot.