The immense follow-up to 2013’s Habitual Levitations, Intronaut‘s The Direction of Last Things is the logical musical progression for the four-man Los Angeles act. Taking the same monumental sound from their last effort and adding a finer, aggressive edge to the mix, The Direction of Last Things towers mightily as a progressive obelisk of furious intensity. Solid songwriting coupled with the massive production of the inimitable Devin Townsend, Intronaut’s latest endeavor exists as quite possibly the band’s finest work to date.
Having been exposed to “Fast Worms,” the album’s first track, quite early on, it set an unusual precedent for the multifaceted act in that it carried a faster, less sludgy tone than previously-released lead singles. Its combative presence primes listeners in two ways—one, this record will carry the same technical prowess that Intronaut are known for. Two, the band are pushing the boundaries of their sound yet again, but keeping within the metaphorical constraints that they have constructed as a unit. The combination of Sacha Dunable‘s harsh yells Dave Timnick‘s soaring cleans are complemented by their respective harsh riffing and melodic sections, elevating each like the rising of a tide. This same sentiment is not always the case throughout The Direction of Last Things, as tracks like “Digital Gerrymandering” will be completely devoid of harsh vocals, but have Dunable and Timnick both powering through with cleans set over a more laid back guitar setting.
“The Pleasant Surprise” returns to a faster pace, staying savage from beginning to end in a head-bangingly powerful four-minute session. Danny Walker is in great form here especially, his drum work as tasteful as ever. The greatest surprise that The Direction of Last Things offers, however, comes in the eerie and pleasant “The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing” at the halfway mark of the the record. This atmospheric track enthralls the listener with nearly monotonous dual vocal work accompanied by dissonant guitar riffs, all underlain by Joe Lester‘s precision bass work, only to evolve into a beautiful post/progressive instrumental. The relaxed drumming combined with the minimal delay of the guitars is a perfect moment to close your eyes and let the bass, now brought to the forefront, take you to a higher plane of existence. The plush guitar solo, continuing the mildly dissonant tones from earlier, tugs at your heart ever-so-slightly. The track ends with a simplistic fade-out to give you a moment’s rest before bringing you back in with the following song.
“Sul Ponticello” grabs you with its sludgy, polyrhythmic introduction before swelling into a sound that includes a crescendo of Intronaut’s most powerful musical elements only to fade away once again. The track ebbs and flows from one Intronaut staple to another, creating a gently swaying vibe of oscillation until the track ends with a jarring, echoing word of prayer following by a whispered string of self-uplifting words, reminding the listener of their oneness with the universe and their infinite existence in the aether of life.
The title track pounds away at you, much like “Fast Worms” and “The Pleasant Surprise” before it, but keenly adopts a middle section reminiscent of “The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing,” only to return to the threatening existence it entered your ears with. “City Hymnal,” as The Direction of Last Things‘ final track, acts a culmination of everything you’ve heard until this point—the bellicose sections fading away for a more anxious-sounding, subtle approach, only to once again rise with pugnacious sentiment—the gang’s all here.
Fans of Intronaut, you more or less know what to expect with The Direction of Last Things. It’s precisely what you want in a new album and a perfect successor to Habitual Levitations. For new listeners, this may not exactly be the kindest jumping point, and you’re urged to start with Prehistoricisms or Void if you would really like to sink your teeth into Intronaut in a meaningful and grandiose way; to really capture the subtle evolution and musical nuances that have engrossed hearts and minds for nearly a decade now. However, if you start with The Direction of Last Things, nobody will get upset—it’s really a fantastic album from beginning to end.
Intronaut’s The Direction of Last Things gets…