Review Summary: Much more accessible, no less apes***.
Remi Gallego is not a man to rely on subtlety. His debut album, Polymorphic Code
, was a boisterous fusion of techno and djent which was much more than the sum of those (admittedly alienating) parts - rather than take tracks in one style and fuse elements of the other, there was genuine cohesion in the chaos and all told displayed a surprising synergy. Octopus4
followed, and while there was a much stronger emphasis on the synthetic, his love for syncopated rhythms and progressive structures still held strong, and more importantly showed that he was not, by any stretch, a one-trick pony. So where next? Brute Force
on the whole would seem a more fitting title for his earlier efforts, but where this album doesn’t go full-throttle for the whole runtime, the lasting result is a much more complete and satisfying beast for it. This album lacks maybe the concept of its predecessor, but as basic as it may sound, it is massively boosted by having an underlying structure.
Now allow me to be blunt about one thing here: if The Algorithm has never appealed before, then Brute Force
is, at best, unlikely to change your mind as the overall aesthetic has not changed. Indeed, tracks such as ‘boot’, ‘floating point’ and ‘hex’ are more fleshed out evolutions of ideas realised on Polymorphic Code
, but it is this evolution that allows Brute Force
to go deeper than the last two records - the relentless chugging from grimy bass squelches and self-played guitar riffing is much more balanced and the layers of contrasting synth work and surgically precise drumming create a euphoric wall of noise: take the closing passage of ‘floating point’ as a prime example - djent textbook riff, reverb splashed lead guitar on top, but the urgency of the crescendo elevates the track into a panic, building incessantly until it has to simply explode before returning breathlessly to the track’s introduction riff.
Elsewhere amongst the mayhem, we see a few new stylistic choices; the title track displays a couple of almost (whisper it) black metal-esque blastbeats and some heavily reverb-washed guitar lines to compliment, ‘shellcode’ jumps comfortably into Venetian Snares territory in its mid-section, while ‘floating point’, ’rootkit’ and ‘pointers’ all dip their toes into CHON/Polyphia style simple-yet-smooth fretwork. Where Gallego is happy to revisit and build on his own style, he is clearly very capable of mixing in new, external influences where it suits the specific track - and it is to his credit that none of these ideas outstay their welcome.
However, the real strength of the album lies in how well the two true curveballs sit in with the rest of the record. Neither ‘userspace’ or ‘deadlock’ were in any way expected after the familiarity of the two lead singles, but they both perfectly find their homes here. ‘userspace’ is something of a slow-burner, which is an alien concept to The Algorithm, but it is really something special. Building on a basic, subdued Daft Punk style house beat, the track swells into a Wild Light
era 65daysofstatic post-rock bridge before warping the original passage to what can only be described as glitchy, melancholic EDM, and makes for quite the listen as an individual piece, moreso as a transition from one half of the record to the next. ‘deadlock’ is (after a bizarre, French QVC sounding intro - translations please?) a flat-out, System Of A Down meets Animals As Leaders rock slam, combining an oddly natural sounding guitar-drum-bass combo that just. goes. hard.
with randomly inserted glitches that come from all sides, toying with the riff and never once letting it settle for than a few seconds, creating a claustrophobic but satisfying mess, akin to a heaver ‘When Acting As A Wave’ from Dillinger Escape Plan’s Ire Works
Simply put, this album is a fantastic listen. A lot of the EDM synth work and djent cliches may well be off-putting to some listeners but in construction, this album comes together perfectly to appeal to both sensibilities. But most importantly, The Algorithm has learnt how to dial it back a few notches, so that the crushingly heavy moments (which are in no short supply) pack just that much more of a punch.