Intronaut “Valley of Smoke” Album Review w/Video
William Kherbek, of AltSounds.com, recently posted his review of the album “Valley of Smoke” by Intronaut. Here’s William’s review below.
Metal pummelling at its best. The technical precision that metal often wears extremely gaudily, is on beautiful show on Intronaut’s vast, multi-hued adventure in heaviness. But Intronaut are impressively egoless, only rarely veering into anything resembling self indulgence or vacant shredding wank-a-delica. The often unhappy marriage of metal and jazz really seems surprisingly natural on Valley of Smoke. That’s the trick of course, to make music that’s hard to make sound inevitable. Mission accomplished.
So many highlights it’s hard to know where to start. Lots of anger and passion, rage and vulnerability, it’s a soundtrack in search of a revolution. It doesn’t get much better than “Above” a doomy, spacey track that recalls the powerful, much neglected sludge pioneers, Earth, though much, much faster. Great interplay between vocals and guitars too. “Core Relations” builds tension excellently with a determined, jittery guitar sequence which you know is going somewhere despite its repetitiveness. When the climax finally arrives, it’s well worth the wait. There’s an almost Alice in Chains quality to the vocal harmonies on “Miasma” and some of the best upper-register guitar tones I’ve heard in a long time on a metal album.
If there’s a problem with Valley of Smoke, it’s that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Intronaut aren’t afraid to let a song breathe, which is great, but sometimes they let a track hyperventilate. The album’s closer “Past Tense” in particular really, really stretches the boundaries of attention with about as many time changes as can be crammed into a single track. And the excellent Dostoevskian title track would be even better if it were just a bit shorter. As Valley of Smoke is unquestionably very much an “album” in the sense that each track is a logical extension of its predecessor, such epic proportions can be wearing over the course of the entire album. But that’s only a minor complaint, with Valley of Smoke, Intronaut may have achieved that rarest of feats, making a record that will please genre purists, but which could, and should transcend the scene. It’s not a metal record for people who don’t like metal, but if you’re open-minded there’s enough here to sustain you for a long time.