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Artificial Brain - Artificial Brain Award winner

Artificial Brain
Artificial Brain
by David Hough at 07 August 2022, 7:09 PM

ARTIFICIAL BRAIN plays a contemporary style of progressive technical death metal in the same vein as AFTERBIRTH, BLOOD INCANTATION, and IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT. Instead of traditional verse-chorus-verse songwriting, they create dissonant, dense, sometimes atonal soundscapes with low guttural vocals. This self-titled album is ARTIFICIAL BRAIN’s third full-length, and while challenging at first, it rewards multiple listens. What sets this band apart from their contemporaries is their use of melody to hold the listener’s attention on this particular album.

The first track that I would like to examine is the third on the album, “Celestial Cyst.” This song starts out with an atonal guitar line that is repeated and revisited throughout the song. Chaotic, yet technical, drumming ebbs and flows, serving as a sort of heartbeat for the song. One of the most interesting qualities of this song, and every song on the album, is their calculated use of melody to guide the listener from one part to the next. Also, it is entirely possible to follow a different instrument from start to finish with every subsequent listen.

Tome Of The Exiled Engineer” starts with a warm, pleasant guitar passage. Immediately afterward, Will Smith’s barking vocals and Keith Abrami’s frantic drumming assaults the listener. After that disorienting passage, the guitar melody comes to the fore. There’s even a bit of a hook that meanders and mutates. Despite all of the dissonance on display, the song always briefly returns to the hook. I also noticed what appeared to be PANTERA-inspired breakdowns during one passage. Each song on this album is like a treasure hunt. The more time you devote to it, the more rewarding your experience will be.

Embalmed With Magma” starts with an eerie synth element. This passage ushers in some commanding drumming by Abrami. It is one of the more melodic ones on this album. The drumming is less chaotic and more purposeful. The ever-present guitar melody also makes this one somewhat less challenging. The final stretch is almost bouncy in nature. The pace of the drumming intensifies while the other instruments are more restrained, and then, as abruptly as it begins, the song ends.

Cryogenic Dreamworld” is another incredibly dense song. It gets off to a slow and melodic start while an atonal guitar passage breaks through. It marches forward deliberately until a dreamy passage opens things up. This dreamy passage gets revisited a couple of times, always after the song is at its most abrasive. There is a dramatic change at the four-minute mark, where everything but the synth stops, and the song takes a turn for the ambient. There’s a faint white noise that’s interrupted with futuristic sound effects until the song fades out entirely.

Insects And Android Eyes” begins with screaming vocals. The slow rhythmic screaming quickly gives way to a cacophony of frantic instrumentation. The melody is always present if you know where to look. After the song’s apex, the guitar and drums play an urgent melody that teeters on the brink of utter chaos. The screaming and guttural noises go well together, and this is one of the most coherent songs on the album.

The final track, “The Last Words Of The Wobbling Sun,” is a master class in deliberately orchestrated chaos. There’s an atonal counterpoint to the more frantic melody on display. Once that has been established, there is an otherworldly guitar interlude, which introduces some nice grindcore elements. Around the four-minute mark, the guitar slows and compliments the rambling synth passages while the grindcore drumming continues. Eventually, most of the sounds fade out, leaving a droning sound that plays for the last minute of the album.

ARTIFICIAL BRAIN have outdone themselves on “Artificial Brain.” What sounds like a complete and utter mess to the distracted or uninitiated listener blossoms into some truly amazing soundscapes. This isn’t an album to put on as background music. There are plenty of albums to fill that niche. No, this album is meant to be studied, admired, and listened to multiple times. It’s a “Finnegan’s Wake” in a world of “Harry Potters.” That’s not a dig against the traditional by any means. “Artificial Brain” celebrates those fleeting moments of calm amidst a sea of turbulence. This is by far their most accomplished album to date and deserves a spot on my albums of the year list for sure.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Artificial Brain
2. Glitch Cannon
3. Celestial Cyst
4. A Lofty Grave
5. Tome of the Exiled Engineer
6. Embalmed With Magma
7. Parasite Signal
8. Cryogenic Dreamworld
9. Insects and Android Eyes
10. The Last Words of the Wobbling Sun
Lineup:
Oleg Zalman - Guitars
Samuel Smith - Bass, Synths
Keith Abrami - Drums
Jon Locastro - Guitars, Saxophone
Dan Gargiulo - Guitars, Vocals
Will Smith - Vocals
Record Label: Profound Lore Records
     


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