Intronaut
Habitual Levitations


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Newton USER (43 Reviews)
March 11th, 2013 | 140 replies


Release Date: 03/19/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fearless as ever, Intronaut put forth their most accessible effort yet without sacrificing their trademark intricacy and thunder.

Just when you think Intronaut can’t twist and grow any more, they knock down another musical wall and continue on their way. These nigh-unclassifiable Californians have changed the game with every release – from their Meshuggah-slaying debut Void to stoner-jazz tour-de-force Valley of Smoke, every album has been different from the last and enjoyable for new reasons. It’s fascinating listening to their breakthrough opus Prehistoricisms and hearing the difference between two consecutive songs; take, for instance, the meticulously planned polyrhythms and explosive drumming of “Australopithecus”, immediately followed by “The Reptile Brain”, whose impressively authentic Indian raga impression foregoes technical wanking entirely for an otherworldly trip into Eastern melody and meditation.

So what is one to expect from a band that consistently defies expectation? The only sure thing about Habitual Levitations was that it would be another crazy intellectual and emotional trip (and perhaps that, as photos of the band’s cannabis-littered notes showed, a fair amount of mind-altering substances were involved in its writing). Pre-release single “Milk Leg” hinted at a strong emphasis on rhythm and atmosphere and a continuation away from pounding metallic chords, yet before fans could mourn the loss of Intronaut’s heavy side, “The Welding” brought a fresh intensity, layering meticulous vocal harmonies over tightly-woven guitar lines en route to a charging climax.

Whether Intronaut’s sound is organically developed or a product of emerging influences is both elusive and probably irrelevant. Among the often-dissonant layers of guitar and Danny Walker’s endlessly creative drumming, there are hints of everything from sludge metal to free jazz. Though Sacha Dunable and company have largely dropped harsh vocals for harmonized singing in the footsteps of Mastodon and Baroness, Habitual Levitations isn’t aiming to be so much accessible as universal. The subtly changing textures of “The Way Down” may be reminiscent of latter-day Isis – think “Stone to Wake A Serpent” – but by the end of the song, you’re left with a taste closer to John Coltrane’s transcendent improvisations than the raging of Godflesh.

In contrast to the way bands like BTBAM and Periphery aim to impress with technical wizardry, Intronaut’s virtuosity supports a more emotional purpose. Danny Walker and Joe Lester comprise one of the more formidable rhythm sections in heavy music, but rather than being flashy, their creative arrangements add prodigious depth to the songs. With Intronaut’s increased emphasis on atmospheric elements, this holistic approach to songwriting is integral to Habitual Levitations’ success. After hearing tracks like “Sore Sight for Eyes”, with its power-chord riffing, and the dreamy, to-the-point "Blood From A Stone”, it’s not a stretch to say that Intronaut is flirting with mainstream appeal for the first time. The structures are still fleeting, and the harmonic and rhythmic forms are as fascinating as ever, but these guys manage to make it almost catchy.

The difference here is that this new accessibility is being achieved on Intronaut’s terms, and to Intronaut’s very high musical and intellectual standards. What makes Habitual Levitations unique – in both Intronaut’s repertoire and the larger canon of progressive metal – is how it pulls you in on the first listen, but remains exciting no matter how many times you come back. While Cynic and Opeth have fans grumbling about their lighter new directions, it’s hard to lament the way that Intronaut are going about their business. Music lovers no longer have an excuse to disregard metal as a whole for being too “angry” or “mindless”; Intronaut have been knocking on the door for years, and with Habitual Levitations they just might blow the roof off popular notions of what metal is capable of.

Top songs: The Welding, Killing Birds With Stones, The Way Down



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user ratings (231)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (3.3)
One major stepping stone, to say the least....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Evreaia
March 11th 2013


4043 Comments


wasn't this stream released like.. about 3 hours ago or so?

good review.

climactic
March 11th 2013


19122 Comments


holy premature 5. this is sounding really good though.

also, youve got a coding error in the last paragraph

Digging: Bolzer - Soma

Evreaia
March 11th 2013


4043 Comments


album is sexy, i approve of the 5 until I've had a decent listen

pedro70512
March 11th 2013


2916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

5 is usually reserved for "classics" but I also think an album that fulfills incredible expectations deserves the highest score.

Digging: EPISTASIS - Light Through Dead Glass

Mewcopa0
March 11th 2013


1800 Comments


I hope this is as good as Prehistoricisms, cause Valley Of Smoke was a bit samey sounding. I always loved Intronauts harsh vocals, it kinda sucks they've been filtering them out. I can't wait to get this one.

MO
March 11th 2013


18776 Comments


oh give me a fucking break

Drummerboy123
March 11th 2013


2360 Comments


I'm not one for this....but vocals ruin this for me.

Too much filler as well. But certain songs I like are frikin sweet.

oltnabrick
March 11th 2013


30909 Comments


"Too much filler as well."


digging the new Soilwork album

LOL

Digging: Suicideyear - FACT mix 462

climactic
March 11th 2013


19122 Comments


rhythm section absolutely makes this band. drummer and bassist are freaking killer

wacknizzle
March 11th 2013


13394 Comments


Good review, looking forward to hearing this. The few songs they've streamed so far were great.

Digging: Torch Runner - Endless Nothing

zxlkho
March 11th 2013


3465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Whoa this album has been streaming for like 4 hours. Review already?

bloc
March 11th 2013


34872 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Eh, this is nothing special at all

MikeC26
March 11th 2013


3181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album rules hard

nice review

Wolfhorde
March 11th 2013


13628 Comments


Premature 5 ect bla bla early review pp

Yeah, gonna bump this so hard while lazing in the sun in some months.

Emyay
March 11th 2013


5962 Comments


a 5? wow. i'm skeptical though. will definitely be checking this out

fromtheinside
March 11th 2013


18363 Comments


i'm skeptical about this

Digging: Gehenna - Seen Through the Veils of Darkness

BloodandRainbows
March 11th 2013


221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well being skeptical never hurt. this is the first 5 review I've handed out.

oltnabrick
March 11th 2013


30909 Comments


that means something

pedro70512
March 11th 2013


2916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I sense sarcasm...

(also, posted that mobile and my phone is stuck on my other profile.)

Dimor
March 11th 2013


1762 Comments


This is not a 5 at all lol. Album feels very average so far. I also find their praised drummer to be incredibly dull and uninspired



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