Artificial Brain’s Infrared Horizon: The Toilet ov Hell Review


Artificial Brain made a massive impact on the world of extreme music with 2014’s Labyrinth Constellation, topping countless year-end lists and winning the HIGHLY coveted Toilet ov Hell’s Community AOTY Award ov 2014 (or TovHCAOTYAov2k14 for short). The weirdo space death outfit is back with another strong contender for the crown with Infrared Horizon

There are no shortage of space-themed metal bands in the year 2017, just as there is no shortage of wildly talented and technically minded groups. It takes a special something, a certain je ne sais quoi, to rise above the sweaty dweebs below. This is where Artificial Brain whips out an intriguing lyrical premise and delivers it with the most deft of touches. “Deft” is a somewhat clunky word to highlight and revisit in a death metal review (say “deft death metal” a few times), but it stuck in my head incessantly when listening through Infrared Horizon. “Oh shoot heck, that’s deft bro!” was only one of several extremely cool phrases I said aloud to absolutely no one that cared.

All kidding aside, the album is brimming with thoughtful, carefully-crafted nuance amid an electrical storm of twisted, unearthly death metal. I, along with virtually the entire extreme metal community, was hooked on the manic barrage of Gorgutsian fury that was Labyrinth Constellation, and that special brand of angular dissonance is on no short display here (check out “Synthesized Instinct above for further confirmation). However, there is a pervasive and appropriate feeling of nearly robotic composure throughout the new album. Where 2014’s offering may have contained a three minute string of good old blast n’ shred, the Artificial Brain of 2017 rips through part of that time before pulling back to masterfully manipulate space and texture. Where Labyrinth Constellation annihilated a race of hideous alien beings with sheer blunt force, Infrared Horizon painfully twists and warps them to do its bidding. Tracks such as “Static Shattering” and “Anchored to the Inlayed Arc,” and “Mist Like Mercury” are prime examples of this.

I cannot stress enough, though, that this is not a “lighter” album. Drummer Keith Abrami strikes a fantastic balance between speed and subtlety, allowing more spacious musical passages to still maintain a sense of strident urgency. Primary songwriter Dan Gargiulo gives himself and fellow guitarist Oleg Zalman plenty of moments of sheer brutal aggression (and absolutely insane tremolo picking), but those are balanced with touches of spacious yet snarling melodicism. “Graveyard of Lightless Planets” even vamps on a blues-like snippet in the back half of the song. Add to that Samuel Smith’s brilliant, Colin Marston-esque bass work and in the context of the album’s theme–cyborgs in a distant future believing themselves to be a more perfect evolution of long-dead humans–the compositional package is truly reminiscent of blasting through a caustic alien atmosphere where tired cyborgs awaken to grapple with abstract thought and existentialism. Will Smith’s hyper-guttural vocals provide the final, otherworldly touch, although his variety as a vocalist is on much greater display than Labyrinth Constellation. Although I needed a while to warm up to his primary vocal style on their debut, I couldn’t imagine this outfit without that sound.

Despite containing some heavyweight veterans of the metal scene, the lads of Artificial Brain must have felt a distinct pressure to adequately follow Labyrinth Constellation. I can predict some possible complaints of moments that perhaps meander too much, but those moments are minimal (and my alliteration is on point). By all accounts, it seems that Artificial Brain breezed through any sort of pressure and took the perfect next step they needed to take. They made themselves harder to describe yet easier to dive into. They held tight to their identity yet greatly expanded the elements that create it. They depicted a robotic existence yet sounded organic. That’s deft, bro.

4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Infrared Horizon will be released on April 21st and is available for preorder through Profound Lore’s Bandcamp page. Give Artificial Brain a like on Facebook if you haven’t already. 

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  • Old Man Doom

    That “masterful manipulation of space and texture” is exactly what I love about Synthesized Instinct. Can’t wait to hear what else they do with those moments on the rest of the tracks.

    • Stockhausen

      You’re going to love the album then!

  • Rain Poncho W.

    Can’t wait for my pre-order to get here.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Seriously deft review, dang ol’ deft album! Should we start just calling it “deft metal”?

  • GL
  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    A deft review for what seems to be a deft album! Great work here Stocky, you always choose the best words and string them together with the utmost ease. I can’t say that I’ll jam this whole album, but perhaps a song or two will prove me otherwise.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      You should say that you’ll jam the whole album.

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        Alas, I don’t want to lie to Stockhausen, he’s my friend.

        • Rain Poncho W.

          Maybe you should explore your Infrared Horizons.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            As I said, I’ll give one or two songs a listen and go from there. But we’ll see where my Synthesized Instinct takes me

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            So I have listened to the released songs and while they haven’t quite grabbed me as I had hoped, I shall listen to the full album upon release.

    • GL

      I am not sure anyone reviews an album.

      GL’s Album Review:

      “Album good. Words here, undoubtedly. Listen now. Regret? No.

      • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

        ALBUM IZ GOOD!!!!!!! GORAK LISTEN NOW!!!!! & AGAIN LATER!!!!!!!
        NO SMASH!!!!!!!

    • Stockhausen

      “…with the utmost ease.”
      Hours of vomiting dumb things and piecing together the least bad scraps. Thanks dude!

  • Joaquin Stick

    The production is so skronky clean. Seriously, it would probably go right over my head if it didn’t sound this dang good. Looking forward to adding another album to my “don’t ever show anyone this” playlist.

  • GL

    These tracks are awesome. Gonna have to buy this.

  • Waynecro

    Sweet review, Stockhausen! I’m pretty psyched to hear the full album.

  • sweetooth0

    The first release was good shit. Thinking this will be too!

  • Great job, O’Dead One. Since I really enjoyed their first release I am forewarned I will enjoy travelling the deep space and get horrorfied by strange beings with this one too.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Great review Stockhausen. Looking forward to this one taking me on some weird journeys.

  • Jacks Smirking Revenge

    Fuck yes cant fucking wait for this fucking album…fucking

  • KJM, Doom Scientist

    OT: United Airlines is listening to its customers! These guys are here to work with you, or work you over, or something.

  • Morbidly Obese Angel

    Deece review! Deece Band! Looking forward to the album, gonna be deece!

  • Excellent review! I liked Labyrinth Constellation, quite a lot, yet didn’t seem to go as apeshit over it as some others did. This, or at least the two embeds, seem much hookier / more easily parsed to me. Good shit.

  • KJM, Doom Scientist

    OT: From the new album coming in about 2.5 weeks

  • RMK

    I am finally getting around to listening to this and this is a serious contender for my (metal) AOTY. I absolutely love the more atmospheric and blackened dimensions of their new sound, especially considering I never really got into Labyrinth Constellation (it sounded too repetitive/derivative to my ears). On Infrared Horizon I hear not just Gorguts but Krallice, which to me sounds even better than Krallice’s own recent output (and I say this as a huge fan who thinks their S/T through Diotima are absolute masterpieces). Also I am a huge sucker for the album’s thematic elements of mechanization, post-human extinction, mourning, and loss, and this cover art is A+++. And this is a very well-written review – “They depicted a robotic existence yet sounded organic” absolutely captures what makes this album so great.