At a time when the definition of “heavy” music seems to get narrower and narrower, LA quartet Intronaut continues to push forward, continually redefining its own sound and challenging genre conventions. One could call it “post-rock” or “prog/fusion metal,” but labels only serve to limit its sound.
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In a field as saturated as doom metal, the only way to make a splash is to play heavier and harder than the band before. Bereft — a Los Angeles quartet featuring members of Intronaut, Graviton, Abysmal Dawn, and The Faceless — is clearly pushing ahead with that mentality on its debut album, Leichenhaus. The seven song, 40-minute onslaught has no breaks and no mercy.
Intronaut made its name in forward-thinking metal circles by understanding that pure metal moments hit harder by sandwiching them between other styles — in this case, passages that are closer to fusion or jazz. Rather than a guitar spotlight, the group reaches for a fretless bass solo; in lieu of a unison run, Intronaut deploys a spacey, percussive breakdown.
But whereas the group’s previous releases (especially Prehistoricisms in 2008) suggested a band poised squarely in art-metal territory, Valley Of Smoke shows the band moving simultaneously toward and away from modern metal. It’s moving toward in its increasingly overt nods to the group’s sonic peers (Neurosis, Isis, and, at times, Pelican), but away in its refusal to ever really stick to one thing at a time, resulting in a disc that’s not easily classifiable as metal, but not easily classifiable as anythingelse either.
Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.