When: Thu., Nov. 19, 5:30 p.m. 2015
The music media have a mercilessly brief attention span—sometimes it feels like a band has just minutes to make an impression before everyone’s on to the next thing. This makes me especially appreciative of the sanctuary that metal provides for the difficult-listening set. Los Angeles prog-metal voyagers Intronaut, for instance, write tunes that take ages to sink in—they feel like cryptic artifacts a benign extraterrestrial race has left for us to decode. On their fifth album, The Direction of Last Things (Century Media), the four members’ parts interlock along complicated interfaces, each one adding a different shape to the puzzle. Limber, elastic bass snakes through complex twin-guitar matrices—sometimes gleaming cellular cycles, sometimes clotted, gnashing stomps—while front man Sacha Dunable ping-pongs between hoarse screaming and clean, airy crooning. Drummer Danny Walker underpins the grooves’ supple intricacy with such a sure touch that he can make five- and seven-based meters rock—which is like tearing up the dance floor with somebody who’s got three legs. Intronaut navigate a fractal collage of eccentric meters that overlap like the tumbling jewels in a kaleidoscope: on “Fast Worms,” hard-panned guitars play sparse picked patterns of slightly different lengths, phasing in and out of sync, while the rhythm section splits the difference. Even riffs in 4/4 don’t tend to have backbeats—they sound so off-kilter that you have to count through them to make sure they’re actually straightforward. It’s relatively easy for metal to overwhelm and shut down your higher thought processes, but this band can keep you engrossed even when your whole brain stays awake.