PICK OF THE WEEK: Intronaut put everyday uncertainty to test on icy ‘Fluid Existential Inversions’

Living from day to day never has been more challenging. For me, anyway, and I’m sure for a lot of you. Mental illness remains a major factor in our lives, and the only time it ever seems to get addressed is with lip service when people don’t want to pay attention other things ruining lives. Everyday is a mystery, and not always in a good way, as we try to move from one anxious moment to the next.

The constant instability facing us everyday is a major part of what inspired “Fluid Existential Inversions,” the wondrous sixth record from LA prog-metal inventors Intronaut, and their first for Metal Blade. We live in volatile times, and things are not so black and white that easy solutions aren’t just pulled out of thin air. Not that Intronaut are here to help you find any of those; rather, their music can stand as a gateway to let you branch out and explore what’s inside your heart and mind. It’s also been a decade and a half since this band formed, and their approach to this record wasn’t to crank out ideas they’d already processed. They easily could have fallen into old patters and still created a great piece of work, but they pushed aside comfort and instead went with what moved them (the addition of keyboards being a major and most welcome change). What resulted is the band—guitarist/vocalist Sacha Dunable, guitarist Dave Timnick, and bassist Joe Lester (Alex Rudinger handled drums on the album)—created a timeless, fresh new Intronaut record that challenges and enthralls, never making it sound like they’re smarter than you are, and always inviting you in for the journey, even if it’s one you’ll have to take in your own mind.

“Procurement of the Victuals” is an instrumental open that drip colors before pounding away, paving the way toward “Cubensis” and its intricate fury. The chorus is swelling and colorful as Dunable calls, “The things you see all melt in your mind,” as the band bursts through that in psychedelic fashion. The track melts into breezier terrain, letting you drift for an extended period before the hammer drops, the chorus returns, and rubbery playing takes us out. “The Cull” is both cosmic and muddy as hell as Dunable’s growls grow dense, and crunchy muck gnaws at muscle. A synth gaze sweeps into a chorus that bustles before the song takes to your dreams, and the blended singing makes your head spin. That dissolves into a prog explosion than filters out into the sky. “Contrapasso” is gritty when it starts with Dunable observing, “It turned out to be a dream,” as things remain within the rocks. Guitars swelter and join with a synth fog, letting spacey strangeness dot the evening sky. The pace reopens as deeply harmonized singing makes your blood flow, and the guitars act as a numbing agent.

“Speaking of Orbs” releases synth pulses and fully opens up its ribcage, leading into a tremendous chorus that might be the best of a group of good ones. The track crushes from there as the bass menaces, and imaginative pathways are revealed before a pummeling close. “Tripolar” buzzes when it starts as Dunable calls out, “I thought I had escaped, of course I never would,” before nasty tones are brought forth. The band unleashes destructive power before evolving into strange cosmic jazz that cools the skin and fills your head with stars. The playing keeps jabbing at your chest before the track comes to a blistering finish. “Check Your Misfortune” unloads cagey violence and leaves ample flesh bruising. Cool verses merge with melodies that seem to have come from beyond as it flows gently but weirdly. The propulsive keys make me think of King Crimson, and the final moments bash away at the gates. “Pangloss” starts with a gnarly riff and buzzing vocals as the chorus rises, and the bands cuts through everything. Suddenly, if feels like dusk arrives as the music has a total nighttime vibe, numbing your brain and blasting out. “Sour Everythings” closes the album by bending into the scene with the bass stomping and the playing chewing through steel. All forces align and work to destroy from the inside out, smashing away at boundaries both musically and mentally. Guitars rise and mangle as the playing crushes teeth before a cooling breeze eases over the bubbling flesh, and the track bleeds away.

Our existence is fragile and volatile, both literally and metaphorically, and every day we’re alive trying to deal with surrounding circumstances of which we have no control. Intronaut bring both a sense of imaginative purpose and volcanic fury to the table on “Fluid Existential Inversions,” and a single journey through the music will open your mind to many ideas perhaps you never considered before. Intronaut refused to play it safe when creating this sixth record, reaching beyond comfort to find answers, which we might also have to do if we’re to successfully navigate our daily lives.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/intronaut

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

For more on the label, go here: https://www.metalblade.com/us/