By: Daniel Jackson
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/04/2017
Label: Profound Lore
The artwork depicting a mournful android grieving the loss of another android is absolutely devastating as a visual, and that same feeling permeates the whole musical experience. It’s bleak, sorrowful, and violent.
‘Artificial Brain’ CD//LP//DD track listing:
1. Floating in Delirium
2. Synthesized Instinct
3. Static Shattering
4. Estranged from Orbit
5. Infrared Horizon
6. Anchored to the Inlayed Arc
7. Mist like Mercury
8. Vacant Explorer
9. Graveyard of Lightless Planets
10. Ash Eclipse
Death metal isn’t normally seen as an emotional genre. It might thematically play with fear, trauma, horror, mortality, religion, and related areas, but emotional depth isn’t something anyone points out when explaining or even defending death metal in a broader sense. It may be time to change that. Over the last several years there have been some releases that have helped broaden death metal’s range in this regard, but there may not be an album that has done so as effectively (and affectingly) as Artificial Brain’s new album ‘Infrared Horizon’
“So much deeper than programming” - from “Static Shattering”.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to hear Artificial Brain’s debut will be familiar with the general musical idea here: jangly, gnarled death metal, constantly churning and changing abruptly. The name and theme of the band has always been apropos; as both their debut and this new album resemble the sounds metal crashing and crunching violently, even for a metal band. It’s not just the harsh changes in course; it’s the force and feeling with which these sharp turns are carried out. Artificial Brain was a killing machine right out of the gate.
On ‘Infrared Horizon’, the band gives its killing machine a soul. That process starts with the absolutely stunning artwork for the album from Adam Burke, who has also recently done artwork for Vektor, Gatecreeper, and the upcoming Sólstafir album. The artwork depicting a mournful android grieving the loss of another android may not read is absolutely devastating as a visual, and that same feeling permeates the whole musical experience. It’s bleak, sorrowful, and violent.
None of this is to say that the band aren’t as sonically devastating as ever. In fact, they may have topped themselves in the ferocity department thanks to some well-timed, but absurdly fast palm muting in places. The technique was something Mayhem made use of during Blasphemer’s time with that band, but here it’s taken even further, even if it’s used more sparingly. You could argue that there are other places where black metal makes an appearance as well. The opening moments of “Static Shattering” certainly bear some resemblance to it, the title track sees the band somehow channelling 90s Enslaved at about a minute into the title track while still finding a way to blend that kind of sound into their own. If anything, it shows that the band are so sure of themselves that they’re willing to constantly throw in unique stylistic elements like these knowing exactly how to make them work within their framework.
Artificial Brain arrived fully formed in 2014, both musically and thematically. They weren’t a band in search of their voice; they’ve had it from moment one. With ‘Infrared Horizon’, the band shows us all just how rich and complex and wide ranging that voice can be. If you thought the band was just a talented band with a cool theme, they’ve made an emphatic statement about just how much more than that they are. Artificial Brain are much deeper than programming.
Band info: Facebook