Artificial Brain unleash space madness, sci-fi-style horror on ‘Labyrinth Constellation’

Artificial Brain coverI love watching old outer space movies, preferably in black and white, because they’re so bizarre, claustrophobic, and unquestionably fun to watch. Nothing good possibly could come from being in deep space, and there’s sure to be carnage at some point, with forces beyond people’s control coming to kill.

It’s equally as great when a band comes along and makes music that gives off that same chilling feeling. Voivod were masters of that (their mascot is an intergalactic warrior who goes through space on a conquest) and still can instill those thoughts today. And a new band Artificial Brain has come along whose members also have their minds in the skies and beyond. They go past dead stars and undiscovered planets (at least by Earthlings), bring their own damage along the way, and work to separate themselves from the rest of the modern death metal crop simply from their strange sound and brutal approach. It’s like space movie gone wrong, where the heroes die horrible deaths on screen and aliens extend their tentacles to choke out humanity. That’s it. No happy ending, and no golden boy to shoot into the stratosphere and saves us all.

It’s not that Artificial Brain are onto something completely different with their debut record “Labyrinth Constellation,” but they certainly are one of the more interesting, thought-provoking death metal bands to come along recently. I’d make loose comparisons to bands such as Gorguts, Gigan, Krallice, and Demilich (more on that later), but it’s not like Artificial Brain sound exactly like any of those bands. The guitar work, courtesy of Dan Gargiulo (Revocation) and Jon Locastro, is devastating and exploratory, giving you a dose of their incredible prowess and machine-like brutality. The bass playing is rubber-band dexterous, popping and bending all over the place, proving how good and imaginative Samuel Smith is. The clubbing drumming from Keith Abrami works perfectly, and the guttural vocals from Will Smith is gurgling and deep, almost like that of Antti Bowman of aforementioned Demilich (which makes sense since Smith was in a group called Biolich that basically worshipped the Finnish technical monsters). In fact, if there’s one thing that may keep some away from the band, it’s the vocals. I tend to be hot and cold on this style, but I like Smith’s work, as it’s not just cliched pig squeals he brings to the table. He has a force and a presence vocally that, to me, sets him apart from the rest of these types of vocalists. Maybe you’ll feel differently, but don’t let it scare you away.

The record opens with a sci-fi basher “Brain Transplant,” starting like a strange downtuned engine before the band explodes with a force, with belchy growls and spindly, technically wicked playing dominating the situation. That leads into “Absorbing Black Ignition,” an off-kilter, mind-altering track full of thrash and crunch, with the vocals going into screaming hisses. The bass snaps like a dragon’s tongue, and strange organs freeze you and carry the track to its ending. “Wired Opposites” is more atmospheric, letting you have a few gasps of oxygen, with the music bubbling over, and the vocals remaining in their gurgling, brutal fashion. It’s a really compelling track, one that demonstrates how they’re operating on a creativity level a step above many modern death bands. “Worm Harvester” begins in ugly fashion, then it evolves into musical gloop and a ton of tempo changes that keeps you guessing as it progresses. “Frozen Planet” also is an adventurous one, with tricky playing, cosmic mentalities, and a tempo that keeps ramping up as it goes on, with Smith’s vocals reaching into screamy madness.

“Orbital Gait” completely erupts from the start, with a faster pace, drums that aim to break every bone in your body, and more playing that easily should capture your attention. There even are some vocals that reach more toward yelling than growling, which is a nice change of pace. “Bastard Planet” is gruff and raspy, with the fellows going all over the place with their playing and creating a dizzying pace, and a finish that is bashing and mashing with spastic guitar work. The title cut is prog-minded and menacing, with a nice robotic noise glaze at the finish, which leads to “Hormone’s Echo.” That track has a calculated, massive pace, with tortured wails, guitar static feeling like cosmic interference, strange echoes, and further mind-altering playing that should twist your brain. Closer “Moon Funeral,” the longest cut at 7:01, starts with plenty of atmosphere and dreamy sequences before it corrodes and gets massively heavy. The vocals maintain their belchy, deep, monstrous tones, the playing is slurry and drunken in spots, they eventually slip into areas of complete destruction, and the finish is raucous and violent.

Artificial Brain shouldn’t worry about impressing with their playing, because only an idiot would not realize how strong these guys are individually and as a band. Sort of like Demilich, they might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who love this style of sci-fi-washed, technical death metal, chances are going you’re going to be thrilled to death. I’m interested in seeing where this band goes in the future and how and if things change up musically or they get weirder. There’s a ton of potential here on “Labyrinth Constellation” that should hit home with anyone else who have nightmare of floating through deep space with only death as a certainty.

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