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Intronaut - Valley of Smoke CD (album) cover

VALLEY OF SMOKE

Intronaut

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.78 | 46 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars More Post-Metal Plus Pleasure

If one was to mix Baroness' Blue Record and Ihsahn's After, the result would sound alot like Intronaut's Valley of Smoke. Mixing just the right amount of raw guts and heady musicianship, the band immediately grabs the listener with a smart but no-BS attitude and takes off. Intronaut is deceptively complex, packing many musical ideas in the music so seamlessly that it's easy to think of the music as just a fancy form of stoner rock. Alas, I was roughly disabused of this notion when I brought the album out for the first time in many months while I was running. I thought the upbeat vibe would be a good motivator, but the numerous time changes and mood shifts were actually distracting from my need for a consistent rhythm and energy.

Jazzy post-rock elements like the beginning of "Core Relations" fit perfectally with grinding metal riffs of "Above." The harmony vocals (I think the intervals used are what remind me so much of Ihsahn, along with rhythmic feel) are the dominant lead element, but harsh vocals take center stage much of the time as well. Odd time signatures, double bass, all the typical prog metal trappings are here...except the wankery. Guitars really are textural here and if anything the only instruments that get to show off are bass and drums. But when the rhythm moves to the fore, always it is with a groove, highlighting a mood or a feel. The overall feel is this a much more visceral, living, organic music than most prog-metal.

While each song has a few new sonic ideas, the entire album does have a little bit of samey- ness to it. There really aren't specific melodic ideas that stick with me to say which song is which. Most of the tunes are mid-tempo. The harmony vocals, though pretty, don't vary a lot. I guess that's several ways of expressing the same idea, need I repeat myself? Joking aside, this is something that both the Baroness and Ihsahn records excelled in that is lacking here.

I've personally labeled a group of bands "Post-Metal Plus" that not only draw on stoner and sludge groove and emotion but also a more elaborate sense of composition and musicianship from prog. Intronaut fits firmly in this category along with bands like Grayceon and Giant Squid. Certainly fans of those bands will enjoy Valley of Smoke, which was one of the better metal releases of a weak 2010. I would have probably given this album 4 stars when it first came out, but with some much stronger competition in 2011, including genre-mate Grayceon, "Good, but non-essential" seems appropriate. 3.5 stars.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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