Longtime fans of experimental Los Angeles prog-metallers Intronaut will immediately notice a downshift on Habitual Leviathans. Gone are any death metal trappings from their previous material, and in their place a more understated, developed sound that repeatedly builds and burns. Eight-minute opener “Killing Birds With Stones” sets the album on its polyrhythmic path, combining riffs full of twists and turns with scene-revered drummer Danny Walker’s knack for gargantuan fills. Sure, focusing on Walker’s work as an Intronaut highlight is too easy (he’s on fire throughout his whole album, even during the understated prog/jazz bits), because never before have the rest of the members of Intronaut gelled quite like this. Vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable, for one, sounds freed from his death-growl shackles, tracks like “Sore Sight For Eyes” sweeping around his brilliant harmonies still sternly delivered. “Eventual” sounds like it comes from the distant future like Meshuggah, but minus the bleakness and desperation (and sledgehammer across the face): a future where the earth isn’t barren and lifeless, it’s warm, bountiful and there’s hope. Sometimes when metal bands change direction, it lessens their impact. Not the case with Intronaut. On Habitual Leviathans, the group are more powerful than ever: but it’s a confident power that requires minimal chest thumping.
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