Intronaut, for those unfamiliar with their work, have been kicking around for a long time. Having toured with the likes of Tool, Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders, the Los Angeles based group have a very polished and refined sound to show on this latest release. It combines elements of more avant-guarde doom metal with jazz and more traditional Latin and African polyrhythms, even mixing in some psychedelic influences at points. Although, as odd as a combination of all these might sound, Habitual Levitations blends them together, and almost effortlessly creates huge amounts of room in the music with subtle touches that add small but notable depths to the overall sound.
I found it very hard to pick out anything unforgivable with the record, as although it does get a little over indulgent at times, those sections do add towards the pieces a whole and help to create this huge sound that gives this album so much ‘oomph’. Every track is different; the selection of riffs shown by the group is wonderfully varied. The guitars are incredibly well crafted, with there being a gorgeous clean tone that dances in and out, and sometimes is laid over, a crunchy and meaty distorted tone that gives the tracks a punch at just the right time. The lead work is simple but effective, not taking attention away from the whole sound more than it needs to, but still remains prominent. The vocals also have a similar sort of effect, as although they aren’t particularly varied, they aren’t particularly frequent and a lot of the album revolves around the instrumental work, which gives it a somewhat trance like quality. Again, the singing is simple but memorable and it really feels Sacha Dunable put effort into the recording but without overdoing it. The bass also plays just the right lines, underpinning the guitars and adding another layer of depth when required of it but without being obnoxious. There are plenty of sections where the guitars die down and the bass lays out just the right riff to keep interest without screaming for attention. And not forgetting the drums. Oh my god the drums. They’re just perfect. I cannot say anything bad about them. They work perfectly guitars, emphasising on the riffs without taking away from them, put textures in just the right places behind the vocals, are interesting without being overly complex. I could go on…
My main criticism of the album would be that at points it really feels as if Intronaught were lazy and uncritical of their own work. Maybe it’s not a valid point considering the style of progressive metal the band are trying to create, but there were too many times when I felt there was not enough going on in the music to keep my interest, and at other times I felt there was too much time spent on singular riffs that felt very underwhelming. While they manage to achieve understated and poignant sections that are delightful, and oddly soothing, there were too many times when I wished they would mix it up a little and do something a bit more unexpected, as after a while the songs start to become inseparable and predictable. Even on the first listen I could sort of predict when there was going to be a change in the musical dynamics, and on subsequent listens the album started to feel a little formulaic.
Habitual Levitations is a very well-crafted piece of work. All the moving parts combine seamlessly into this wall of sound that feels so textured and huge, yet is so delicate and immersive. It is quite clearly a very contemplated album, although at points it does get very self-indulgent. I would heartily recommend this to anyone who has even a slight interest in doom or prog metal as it does not disappoint.
For Fans of: Tool, Ghost, Opeth
Good with: A sophisticated dinner
Bad with: Rushed decisions
‘Habitual Levitations’ Track Listing:
1. Killing Birds With Stones
2. The Welding
4. Sore Sight For Eyes
5. Milk Leg
8. Blood From A Stone
9. The Way Down
Sacha Dunable – Guitar/Vocals
Joe Lester – Bass
Dave Timnick – Guitar/Vocals/Percussion
Danny Walker – Drums