Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.
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 anything else either.