Artificial Brain
Labyrinth Constellation

There has been quite a buzz about the debut from New York’s Artificial Brain, the technical death metal band featuring Revocation‘s Dan Garguilo and Biolich/Andromorphus Rexalia vocalist Will Smith. After hearing it, the buzz is deserved, as is Profound Lore’s bold declaration of the band as ‘next level death metal’.

Adorned with more striking artwork from Paolo Girardi (Vastum, Inquisition, Chaos Inception), Artificial Brain has more in common with Andromorphus Rexalias‘s ‘cosmic grinding brutality’, than clean, modern, and typical tech death, partially due to the uber-brootal deep vocals and the cosmic/sci fi lyrics and themes. Throw in the unmistakable influence of Colin Marston (Krallice/Gorguts), who mastered and produced, and you get a truly unique album.

Take away Smith’s guttural, unintelligible vocals, and replace them with black metal rasps (which do arise here and there), and it’s not a reach that Labyrinth Constellation could have been a Krallice album with a death metal sheen. The riffs have that spacey, jangly, unsettling aura (check out the title track), and the structures are as atypical as there is in tech death metal. But you can hear all sorts of stuff from Deathspell Omega‘s atonal shimmer, strains of the new Gorguts (further cementing Marston’s finerprints here), label mates Mitochondrion (who Marston has also mastered and mixed) and Ulcerate in the billowy, airy but brutal yet cryptic delivery, as well as Gigan in the gibbering, alien complexity. And I might be the only one, but I detect a Lykathema Aflame vibe in the grinding yet intellectual novas contained on Labyrinth Constellation.

Like the void of space, Labyrinth Constellation is seemingly structureless and chaotic, but it contains star-riddled clusters of beauty and depth often not visible to the naked eye (or ear). It swirls, contracts, and expands like a living, breathing entity or amorphous gases in the cosmos. Yet somehow it’s Smith sewer-swirling goregrind vocals that seem to cement everything together. While the majority of the tracks deliver this vaporous structure and pace, the band do remind you here and there they are a brutal death metal band with a massive lope or off-kilter blast (“Orbital Gait”, “Bastard Planet”). Rather than suffocate you with weight and density (a la Dark Descent’s recent releases like Lie in Ruins, Corpsessed, or Lvcifyre), Artificial Brain, like space itself, leaves you gasping for air for other reasons, removing your oxygen and imploding your eyes with frightening and empty clinical chaos.

The likes of “Absorbing Black Ignition” (with its subtle, spacey synths), “Worm Harvester”, (featuring a surprisingly calm and cosmic bridge), “Frozen Planets,” and the weirdly-restrained chaos of “Hormone’s Echo” are technical in a musician’s sense, but they also don’t focus on self-absorbed noodling or clean, frenetic notes. Instead, they succeed with weird, cosmic, chaotic layering that’s kaleidoscopic and unearthly in its busy-ness. They are sonic black holes – each a massive, lurking, possibly intelligent presence that will suck you into its vortex of the unknown. And it’s brilliant. The seven minute “Moon Funeral” closes the album out, and by that point, I’m still not disinterested or overwhelmed, just completely enamored and hypnotized from start to finish. That’s a rare feat for an album in 2014, considering the amount of music I absorb on a weekly basis.

I have not been blown away by a Profound Lore release in awhile (Indesinence? Abyssal?), so this was overdue, and boy, is it a special release. It’s one of those rare, game-changing releases, and I promise that you have not heard anything quite like it. Look for this to litter year-end lists aplenty at the end of 2014. Including mine.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 24th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I love this album, most unique death metal sound since the Bolzer EP last year. This is like some weird slam-death version of Deathspell Omega, particularly the weird spidery riffs, but this is much more listenable because of the groove and ‘slightly’ more conventional song structures. I also far prefer this to other weird-for-weirdness’ sake tech/atmospheric death like Gigan, Portal, etc. Great find!!


  2. Commented by: Brad

    People keep calling it unique, and I like the album, but am I the only one who thinks this sounds very similar to Wormed’s 2013 release?? Even the ‘sci-fi’ theme is similar.


  3. Commented by: Rabid1

    I agree, Brad. I got the album this morning, have listened to it through twice at the office, and easier-digesting ‘Exodromos’ is what keeps coming to mind. Excellent release and great review, Erik.


  4. Commented by: Luke_22

    Fully agree, this is a phenomenal album with lots to digest. A truly unique, mind-bending experience. I agree their are some superficial similarities with the Wormed album, but each album is different enough to stand on its own.


  5. Commented by: Stiffy

    I love what I have heard from this and the artwork alone was a sell for me. Can’t wait to get my copy.


  6. Commented by: vugelnox

    This does sound like Wormed at times but where Wormed never did anything for me, although I can clearly see the appeal for the tech-death minded, this scratches the itch perfectly.


  7. Commented by: DJ

    I prefer Ulcerate or Wormed but it is a solid release .


  8. Commented by: bast

    Amazing Full-length debut


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