(Todd Manning wrote this review of the new album by Artificial Brain.)
It’s impossible to know (short of asking them) if New York-based Death Metal quintet Artificial Brain are familiar with such outre philosophies as Cosmic Pessimism or Object-Oriented Ontology, but they certainly seem to have concocted the perfect soundtrack to such occult topics. On their second full-length, Infrared Horizon, due out on April 21st on Profound Lore, they present us with a sound that conjures forth the far reaches of the void of outer space, and the nihilistic possibilities outlined in said philosophies.
Artificial Brain aren’t the first sci-fi, space-faring Death Metal group we’ve encountered. The theme has always been a part of the genre, going all the way back to Nocturnus and Demilich, but they do successfully straddle many different camps in the Metal world. On the one hand, the pummeling blast beats and absolutely guttural vocal approach bring to mind a group like Wormed, with their own hyperspace approach. But at the same time, musically they draw from a wide palette of modern acts such as Gorguts and Krallice, the latter being invoked often in Artificial Brain’s approach to harmonized tremolo-picked guitar sections.
Those familiar with the band’s first opus, Labyrinth Constellation (2014), will find a logical extension of the material on that album. Infrared Horizon finds the band more cold and abstract, less accessible but all the more enthralling for it. The riffs are screwed and chopped into more obscure forms, and the chord structures always come across as unique. The velocity of the drumming always gives the songs a hyper-brutal edge, but the riffs themselves give the listener a sense of weightlessness. And the low-end vocals work well here. Often times, this approach is used in Modern Death Metal to try to convey a sense of blood-soaked carnage, but here they are recontextualized. The inhuman approach here invokes an unknowable, alien presence roaring from beyond the lightless depths of deep space.
This is perhaps the key to unlocking Infrared Horizon. The philosophical approaches referenced above attempt to describe the complete absence of humanity, or a self-willing denial of life. Not so much Metal’s obsession with the destruction and extinction of mankind, but rather the world that exists without us, often without our interference in the first place. The task is impossible, trying to understand a perspective that by its nature denies our presence or agency. Yet Artificial Brain make a compelling artistic statement in this vein. Their music brings to mind worlds completely unknown and unknowable to us. This is Science Fiction and Cosmic Horror taken to their ultimate extremes, and the listener is left to revel in their vastness.