The fusion of electronic music and metal has been and always will be controversial. This problem stems from an imbalanced focus or a shallow appropriation; you have to do both genres justice, and placing synth arpeggios over breakdowns isn’t how you make compelling music. It takes a well-worn understanding of both genres to execute a worthwhile fusion, and it’s true that few have been able to demonstrate this knowledge and creativity. Of all the acts that have made an attempt to bridge metal and electronica, French musician Remi Gallego’s project The Algorithm may well be the one that makes the best case for the cause. Born as an avant garde sideshow to the burgeoning djent scene in 2009, the project has continued to grow as an international touring act with unparalleled standing as a crossover phenomenon.
With their third full-length Brute Force, The Algorithm has managed to refine its style further be elaborating on the prog metal roots and the songwriting style that Gallego is known for. In the grand scheme of things, The Algorithm is still mostly grounded in electronica, pulling across many different subgenres; elements of dubstep, trance, and drum n’ bass come and go as backdrops onto which Gallego can project hooks and melodic movements. Hints of post-rock are retained with sweeping ambient leads on tracks like “userspace” in particular, and retrowave has its moment of glory with “hex.” Both are kept to a minimum, all things considered, but Gallego makes up for it by creating The Algorithm’s heaviest album to date.
What sets Brute Force apart from its predecessors is Gallego’s expanded use of guitar. On much of Polymorphic Code and Octopus4, much of the already limited guitar was either sampled or were synthesizers filtered through amp modeling software. However, Gallego picks up a proper guitar for the Brute Force compositions, and it makes a world of difference in texture and tone with the utilization of actual riffs (“floating point”) and passionate guitar leads. The first half of Brute Force in particular is truly a playground wherein Gallego weaves glitchy beats and dubstep wobbles with retrofuturistic guitar leads that are on par with Chimp Spanner‘s style of playing and sense of melody. It truly captures the atmosphere of an electronic rock record, which isn’t something anyone could say about the project’s previous work.
Of course, the Meshuggah influence is still at play as djenty polyrhythms act as the rhythmic cornerstone of Brute Force. Most songs feature djenty guitars in some form or fashion, though Gallego fully commits to the sound with the Igorrr (another very important name in the metal/electronic fusion genre) collaboration “deadlock” which rides the lowest guitar string through stuttering drum samples and bassy synth wobs to create the soundtrack to a catastrophic hard drive failure. The title track also experiments with a flurry of spastic blastbeats that are interesting within the context of electronic music. This detour contributes to the album’s diverse feel yet feeds into the overall balance that Gallego has made great strides in perfecting.
Those aching for more darting synth leads and atmospheric pads will also be well satisfied as the angular momentum and jarring mechanical rhythms provide the primary skeletons on which songs are built. Electronic music may well be the basis of all things The Algorithm, Gallego has toyed with fusion and context by blending these two disparate genres together in a way that sounds natural and effortless. Brute Force is able to defy logic as an album that is wildly diverse yet strangely cohesive, a point driven home by the inclusion of a remix of early-career track “trojans” as the album’s closer, which sounds almost unfocused in comparison to the more wisely crafted Brute Force. Without question, this is The Algorithm’s best work yet, and it’s not just because it’s the most metal.