Album review: Artificial Brain’s ‘Infrared Horizon’

Infrared Horizon

Infrared Horizon

Artist: Artificial Brain

Album: Infrared Horizon

Genre: Brutal death metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Links: Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, record label

“Infrared Horizon” is “The Sound of Perseverance” of brutal death metal: An expansive, emotional and artfully contracted ode to grisly nihilism that will certainly be remembered as one of the genre’s crowning gems.

That’s colossal praise, but there are few other ways to describe the otherworldly monument that is Artificial Brain’s sophomore record.

It’s rare that an album manages to champion a genre’s signature traits while defying all of its negative stereotypes, but “Infrared Horizon” is essentially a 48-minute argument for brutal death metal’s creative dominance and boundless potential for diversity. This is unprecedented, and not just because of the band’s relative youth or the subgenre’s well-deserved infamy as being among heavy music’s most stagnant and artistically void of styles.

No, “Infrared Horizon” is neither stagnant nor artistically void. This is immediately evident when the record is analyzed as a singular entity, but each of its 10 songs are bursting with originality and standalone sections of extensive instrumental brilliance. Pacing and tone changes at a moment’s notice and though no two songs, or even portions of the same song, sound completely alike, at no point does “Infrared Horizon” sound disjointed or overwhelming, despite its dazzling complexity.

Wasting no time on pomp, opener “Floating in Delirium” ignites the record with an extreme metal gamut of inventive guitar riffs that seamlessly transition from raw shredding to technical sweeps and even melodic riffing. Everything just clicks perfectly, from the furious lead guitar work to the consistently audible bass lines and hammering drum beats.

And that’s just the opener. There’s a multitude of other moments that demand mentioning: The desperate and feral screaming on “Static Shattering” comes to mind, as does the monolithic title track, where frantic growls and screeches join with some of the album’s most crushingly aggressive riffs to produce one of death metal’s finest displays of wanton destruction in recent memory.

“Infrared Horizon’s” vocals are no less gripping than the record’s ferocious instrumentation. As is to be expected from the genre, Artificial Brain’s vocal work is primarily deep, gurgling squeals, interspersed with traditional death metal’s growls and occasional raspy screams. Though the guttural brutality of the vocals will delight genre purists, they also shatter any preconceived notions one is likely to have about this kind of harsh singing.

There’s nary a hint of repetition, and like the record’s instrumental counterparts, “Infrared Horizon’s” lurid vocals are entirely discernible and manage to stand out while simultaneously complementing the rest of the music perfectly. At its best, which is remarkably often, the album’s roaring synergizes with the rest of the record so deftly that they sound more like a fourth instrument than a separate entity.

To top it off, the throaty bile also delivers some genuinely impressive lyrics worth the trouble of reading. Their philosophical science-fiction horror suits the music well, and the record’s spacey atmosphere delivers Artificial Brain’s vision of an empty future with genuinely cinematic spectacle.

“Cinematic” isn’t a term commonly applied to brutal death metal, while “emotional” is practically unheard of. Both fit here. This is music from the gutter, but it shoots for the fucking stars.

“Infrared Horizon” the thinking man’s death metal record, without the absurd prog pretentiousness such a heinous term typically implies. That said, it doesn’t take much thought to realize that this is one of the finest brutal death metal records in the genre’s history and a surefire contender for 2017’s “Album of the Year” list.

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