Whether you like The Algorithm or not, the fact remains that Rémi Gallego's main project has done a lot
to take the reins of progressive metal's new commanding era. You could put this down to the recent emergence of synthesiser-led musicianship and its seemingly intrusive charge at the modern metal scene, but The Algorithm have clearly been a different kettle of fish from day one. I mean, metalheads are now dancing instead of headbanging. They're questioning time signatures and their relevance in a 10 minute song. The metal world is changing, regardless of the endless moans and groans from self-confessed purists. This, in effect, has been a by-product of The Algorithm and its many, many peers as both music media and record label promoters push their latest discoveries within the underground scene into our unexpectant faces.
Let's not preach though, because The Algorithm's latest effort, Compiler Optimization Techniques
, details yet another apparent abrupt change reflecting on a musical career already full to the brim of different directions. There's only five songs. There are evident blastbeats. Rémi Gallego's multi-instrumental performance feels both more scattered and consistently aggressive than ever before. Is he trying to go "kvlt" at the beginning of "Binary Space"? Is he attempting to produce nostalgia from the obvious 80s-worshipping synthesiser soundtrack coarsing its way throughout "Sentinel Node"? Is Gallego indulging in a hidden love for campy Horror theatrics in "Fragmentation"? Who knows what direction the French multi-instrumentalist is going in, but a lot of the songwriting here is more scattered than coherent. For all the time you take to enjoy opener "Cluster", the impression dwindles into a downward spiral as the slow-burning sludge of "Fragmentation" breaks through, yet in this same song you can hear organs drawn straight from a B-Horror film, and a confusing array of glitchy riffs which really don't go anywhere, even in parallel universes. Yet the same song is so catchy in parts that you're torn apart and deciding whether to skip the song or repeat the better half of it. What a bizarre reaction.
The album begins with a song which almost lasts 12 minutes, isn't afraid to indulge in its obvious thrash-inflected riff work and invites you to create your own dance moves when performed live, but in the same song we're bearing witness to effective soundtracks to a seemingly post-apocalyptic world where machinery and A.I. reigns supreme. At least that's what it sounds
like. Alas, a lot of The Algorithm's latest album is simply madness. There's too much going on, but it's also like a music buffet. Gallego clearly wants the listener to select their favourite bits: Why else would he compile so many different (and often contrasting) musical elements and chuck them into the same section of a song? There's no other reason why the album has an average song length of 8 minutes, because every track seems to gasp for air thanks to the hodge-podge of different sounds being tossed around. It's great though, because what can be heard clearly is delivered with such conviction and enjoyment that the listeners will simply tag along for the ride. "Cluster" is a headbanging sensation. "Binary Space" sounds evil and demonic without being too cheesy thanks to its black metal influences. "Fragmentation", in spite of its really slow start, demonstrates tentative progression and shows less memorable progressive metal bands how intricate, forward-thinking songwriting should be done.
Compiler Optimization Techniques
is a confused mess, but it's one you can still get behind and enjoy for the most part. The danceable rhythms are still in spades, but what Gallego is attempting to create here is a progressive metal epic with avant-garde strings attached. Listening to the album in full is one hell of a ride, but one which makes you scratch your heard as often as clicking your fingers and humming to a bizarre melody. You'll feel full long before the end of the album is nigh, but it still deserves a listen if only to discern how the next stage of modern metal is being constructed.