Los Angeles based post-metal act Intronaut formed in 2004. The core of the band consists of guitarists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick as well as bassist Joe Lester. They are well known for their tremendous musicianship, atmosphere and jazz-fusion leanings. In honor of their latest album Fluid Existential Inversions, here is our ranking of their previous albums.
Prehistoricisms, their sophomore release and first for Century Media, was the debut of the second guitar of Dave Timnick, who alongside Joe Lester and Sacha Dunable maintain the backbone of this longstanding band. Being he first thing from the band I had heard, I saw them open a show in Brooklyn on Mastodon’s Crack The Skye tour with Kylesa as additional support, this album was plucked right from the merch table.
Major exposure like this was perfect for band that was starting to form more of a unique identity with the bass playing becoming more like bands like Cynic, whose Traced In Air released two months after this album. A more progressive effort than its predecessor, Prehistoricisms really helped to showcase the playing of all their individual members, “The Literal Black Cloud” is all atmosphere, enveloping the listener before moving on again. “Australopithecus” is recommended because it might include some of the prettiest melodic sections the band has ever written.
The band’s strong debut Void is a stark contrast to some of the more progressive themes they would embark upon later in their career. This was a time when the metal scene was enjoying the genesis of Mastodon and bands that even smelled like post metal had to swim through Oceanic-laden comparisons to Isis. Void was strongly received with Dunable’s great leads and Lester’s bass playing that would make Cynic’s Sean Malone blush, especially on tracks like “Fault Lines’ and ‘A Monolithic Vulgarity.”
Released on Goodfellow records, this got the band recognized by larger labels and specifically Century Media who they would be with for the next several studio albums. This was also the only album without longtime guitarist Dave Timnick. This disc still sounds great as it serves as a fine foundation for what was to come later.
If Void was the outright heaviest album Intronaut had released to this point, then consider Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones) the least heavy. Nearly devoid of harsh vocals, the album opens with “Killing Birds With Stones,” an 8 minute trek that is commonly marching through your eardrums. Pounding drums pace Joe Lester’s triumphant bass lines while Dunable and Timnick balance all of this out with their vocal harmonies to create a final two minutes of blissful finesse.
Live staple “The Welding” has a very robotic feel to it and perhaps that’s by design, especially the repeated guitar patterns that also feature a pop of bass. It almost feels as though there was a bit of influence from mathcore bands like Dillinger Escape Plan. Single “Milk Leg” is just a beautiful track, one that doesn’t need overt heaviness to succeed and is flat out one of the best songs they have ever recorded.
Intronaut’s third foray was the album that launched them into critical stardom. Valley of Smoke was the perfect storm of heavy and progressive, a melding of the first two albums. It gave them an in with fans of bands such as the aforementioned Mastodon and also Baroness who had just released their Blue Record. The title track even featured Justin Chancellor of Tool as a second bass player.
“Miasma” features great vocal harmonies on top of fat and distorted guitar chords of the progressive variety. Ample soundscapes help this song to move to the top of the pack with post metal glory, always willing to add another layer to this already complicated collective of metallic madness. Fans are sometimes quick to mention that this album was the hook for the band, one that has kept them around for the nearly ten years that have passed since its initial release.
Returning right out of the gate with the heaviness of their first three albums, “Fast Worms” is the best album opener in the discography so far. Drums explode, vocals are in perfect balance and just then everything slows to a near stop. Enter Lester’s bass playing with its traditional wobble between pinch harmonics courtesy of the guitar duo at hand, a jazz-fusion affair if there ever was one recorded by this band.
Being Intronaut’s latest release it is easy to say that this is their best album and one that does the best job of creating a balance of heavy, technical and flat out beautiful songs throughout. It has left a lasting impression during a five year period where they went nearly radio silent, but with songs that are able to show how multifaceted of a band they are like “Digital Gerrymandering,” “Sul Ponticello” and the title track, did they need to rush?