Artificial Brain - Infrared HorizonWith the release of Labyrinth Constellation in 2014, New York’s Artificial Brain won themselves an immediate following of fans and critics alike, myself included. With a shudder and a scream, Labyrinth Constellation pulled me by the throat out into a borderless realm of cavernous sci-fi horror as bizarre as it was enticing. The album managed to feel vast without losing the down-to-earth grit of death metal, and even among other Gorguts-influenced groups, Artificial Brain had created a unique sound and a fantastic debut. Following that up will be difficult. For many death metal fans, Infrared Horizon is the most anticipated album of the year, and despite its standalone quality, it’s impossible not to judge it against the brilliance of their debut. So how does the sophomore effort stack up?

When “Synthesized Instinct” breaks atmosphere, flaring up like a decommissioned satellite, it’s clear not much has changed in the band’s tonal palette. Atonal chimes of guitar and bass peel away like so many bits of solar panel and reflective casing as the song races downwards, buckling under the pressure of its own disintegration. “Synthesized Instinct” retains the knotty riffing and broad scope of Labyrinth Constellation, but it’s very clearly blackened in respect to the previous album. If I had to guess (and I kind of don’t), I’d say guitarist/principal songwriter Dan Gargiulo has been listening to a lot of black metal, and in addition to the Dodecahedron and Blut Aus Nord, I’d wager misþyrming has been on his radar as of the writing of this album. Whereas Labyrinth Constellation packed in Demilich-esque brutal death riffs, Infrared Horizon is noticeably slimmer on the riff front, and more of the songs are fueled by speedy tremolo-picked guitar parts that are noticeably less complex.

That’s not to say a little more black metal here and there is necessarily a bad thing, and despite being a bit easier to follow overall, some of the guitar parts on Infrared Horizon are real head-turners. “Anchored to the Inlaid Arc” proceeds at a significant portion of light-speed, and its palm-muted black metal riffing is the fastest I’ve ever heard. I’d not be surprised to see a little smoke rising off of the strings when this gets played live. But in between songs like “Synthesized Instinct” and “Anchored to the Inlaid Arc” are ones that don’t quite stack up. “Mist Like Mercury” feels directionless and ends in a fade-out; “Infrared Horizon” leans far too hard on a simple rhythmic figure; “Ash Eclipse” doesn’t feel very different from the rest of the album and proves to be a very weak ending. Labyrinth Constellation felt like looking out the window of a spacecraft as it flies between new and bizarre worlds; there was a sense of constant motion and wonder that Infrared Horizon simply doesn’t capture.

Artificial Brain 2017

As before, the album sounds fantastic, and you can pick out every single note no matter how fast any band member is playing – but good luck trying to replicate it yourself. Vocalist/human bellows Will Smith uses his upper range a fair bit more on this album than before, but his higher screams and rasps don’t have the near the gravitas or power of his guttural gurgles, and especially on the title track get a bit irritating after a while. Also of note are the couple of studio tricks that the band uses to spice up songs — most notably the down-sampled bits in “Estranged from Orbit” and “Mist Like Mercury.” While these are exciting moments that certainly beg for attention, they’re at best a novelty and at worst a gimmick to add flair to a song that really needs some.

Infrared Horizon makes for a very different listening experience compared to Labyrinth Constellation, and it’s difficult to compare the two directly. The twisted guitar work, guttural burbles, and overall density of the album could only come from Artificial Brain, but this is a different side of the band; a more bare and blackened personality that was less prominent the last time around. Though their sound is unmistakeable, this album is a very different listening experience. For some it might be apples and oranges; brutal and blackened can’t compare. Readers will know which side of that divide Kronos sits on.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Releases Worldwide: April 21st, 2017

  • Brutalist_Receptacle


    • Name’s Dalton

      What’s a fake zombie’s favorite band?

      Artificial Brain.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        All I can say is… Ba Dum Tish ;)

  • ashcindersmoke

    Wow I was sure this was gonna get a 4.5

    • Bob Lunger

      It did everywhere else. Just not here.

      • ashcindersmoke

        I’ll have to find out tomorrow. Hopefully I like it more it’s definitely one of my most anticipated of the year.

    • Same. I am kinda shocked actually.

    • ssorg

      the songs so far on BC are so good, so hard to judge the (apparently) primary criticism of inconsistency in songwriting. As far as sounding more BM/DM or sounding like the prev album, I couldn’t care less (and would seem a strange criterion to judge on). On another point, I though Colin Marston production was worth a 3.0 on its own…

      • ashcindersmoke

        I’ve listened to the whole thing once on my way to work, and from the initial listen it’s at least a 4. Will have to see if it has any lasting power the next couple weeks.

        • Bob Lunger

          Same here. I would give it a 4 after my first listen. It seems like it has some lasting power initially. Labyrinth Constellation I listened to at least 4 times before I could honestly say I had fully understood the album. Labyrinth I would give a 4.5 if held today.

          • ashcindersmoke

            Been listening to it all day and with each listen it creeps closer to a 4.5

  • Killer fucking music. Do not enjoy the grunt/gurgle shit. Wouldn’t be so bad, but they’re placed directly on top of everything.

    • ElectricEye

      Totally agree. I have a hard time with vocals that sound like an ultrasound machine.

  • Handy Donut Hole

    It’s like having my brain pulled from my ears. I fucking love it.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    “Synthesized Instinct” should be the title of that song Ross from “Friends” plays on keyboards and vocoder.

    • HairyToeKnuckles

      Infinite time *echo* time time time time…

  • Alfonso Soriano

    Are you fucking kidding me? Your reviews have been extremely harsh recently. You have given a 4.0 to Hour of penance’s worst album and have consistently given 2s and 3s to albums that are critically acclaimed elsewhere. Fen Winter is an example and this as well. Then you went ahead and gave the band lantern with some of the worst vocals on a death metal release a 4. Now this is all your opinion, and that’s fine, but I just find the reviews to be extremely punishing on excellent albums.

    • Sean Sky

      I don’t agree about the vocals being terrible on Lantern; they’re just different. For example: I was very conflicted on the vocals from Mithras but On Strange Loops ended up becoming one of my favorite albums last year.

      I do agree that the Fen album was really good, though. Definitely deserved a higher rating than 2.5.

      • Bob Lunger

        Maybe I was being too harsh on lantern as the music is phenomenal, but I agree Fen deserved a higher rating. I don’t know I found wolfheart’s new album to be spectacular as well. And that was also a 2.5.

        • Sean Sky

          I started listening to Lantern again after reading this post just to have a fresher opinion on it. I think it’s killer and deserving of the 4. I also haven’t listened to AB yet so I’m withholding my opinions on that one (obviously). I just know I was surprised to see it not get rated higher after the anticipation.

        • Drew Music

          My two cents would be to focus more on the review than the rating. They tend to be extremely fair when reviewing the actual qualities of any given album, the rating will always inherently lean more on the side of someone else’s biases no matter how objective anyone tries to be. If a review is fair and maybe even introduces someone to some sweet new tunes, really the rating is irrelevant.
          Also, Kwintessens, just because.

    • Morbidly Obese Angel

      Agreed. Still scratching my head about how Origin’s Omnipresent got a 4.5 and Rivers of Nihil got a 1.5 haha. Pure comedy!

      • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

        Without going back and reading the reviews, and also being very familiar with both those records, I would completely agree with both scores.

    • El_Cuervo

      I agree that I would have rated this album more highly. But I also understand that there is more BM here which is not to the preference of everyone. Don’t fixate on the score so much, read the words.

      • Sean Sky

        AMG himself has considered killing the rating system for these reasons. There’s also going to be disagreement so it’s better to just listen for yourself and make your own judgement. Some of my favorite bands / albums got middling reviews around here *cough Enslaved cough cough Opeth cough cough*.

        (Insert White Wizzard joke)

        • El_Cuervo

          oh did he? Didn’t know that

          • Sean Sky

            I believe he did but I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was brought up. Was awhile ago, I think. Rating system or no rating system there will be disagreements. It’s a blog with subjective opinions.

          • El_Cuervo

            (that was a joke. I was party to the discussion here and behind the scenes)

          • Sean Sky

            Haha okay makes sense. I was actually surprised a writer was unaware. =)))

          • El_Cuervo

            soz my humour tends to be quite dry

          • Sean Sky

            As is mine but I didn’t know what people know or don’t know so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • Nag Dammit

            It’s an interesting one. Me being a lazy Bastard, with albums / bands I’ve not heard of, I always scroll to the bottom to see if the score is 4 or above (or 1.5 or lower) before I bother reading the review.

            If it’s a band / album I’m anticipating then I’ll do the reverse and read the words first and the score becomes less important.

            Lazy or not, it’s just my way of filtering out the essential from the non-essential.

            I often actually find the bands the writers

          • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

            I personally think eliminating the rating system would be a mistake, but I do agree there is a matter of opinion here that is important, and the unrestrained aspect of opinions on this site are why I keep coming here.

            Maybe I don’t always agree, but I do appreciate the general sense of unfiltered honest opinion on this site.

            I like the rating system because I often read this site at work, which means I usually get only a minute to glance at it, and then make a note to come back and thoroughly read through it if the rating is unexpected.

        • #neverforget

      • spoon dog

        Eurogamer (big gaming site) got rid of numbers and went with – Avoid. No rating. Recommended. Essential.

        I don’t take much notice either way, just watch a gameplay clip or with music, the embedded song, but I prefer the out of five with .5s.

    • The Reverend

      Wow you are right! How stupid of them to write a subjective review! If they rate x album a 2.5 then y album MUST be at least 3.5, what are these guys, people with tastes and flaws??? I don’t read a review site to see different opinions and maybe have a part in a semi-intelligent discussion!!

      • Bob Lunger

        Aww someone is getting their feelings hurt I see. I read different opinions all the time and after constantly seeing great albums get trashy reviews I made a subjective comment. Having an intelligent discussion has its place. I don’t see how me commenting does anything against that type of conversation.

    • Grumple_Stiltskin

      This is basically a less interesting Krallice album. Not sure why it’s worth the hype or getting this worked up over.

  • Morbidly Obese Angel

    Killer album. Definitely a lot better than what this review makes it out to be. I guess it just didn’t have enough sweep picking and gravity blasts

    • Sean Sky

      Definitely needs more gravity bongs and sweet herb picking. Wait… what? 4/20 brahhhhh dank af.

    • Reese Burns

      I’m loving the heavier BM influences, personally. I’d give it a strong 4.0.

  • Jrod1983

    I haven’t listened to the whole album yet, just the advance tracks, but I have to say I’m pleased with it so far.
    I really like the fact that they managed to retain a signature sound, yet experiment just a little by adding the blackened elements, for better or worse I’m happy they didn’t just carbon copy the debut.

    With that being said, I absolutely love Labyrinth and spin it regularly, so obviously I will need more time with this one to see how it holds up.

  • Jeff Manteiga

    From the three advance tracks I’ve heard, this sounds much more cohesive than the debut. I find it difficult to get through Labyrinth in one sitting because the middle kind of drags (the two epic-length closers “Hormone’s Echo” and “Moon Funeral” finish the album up on a high note). I hear less “dissonance for the sake of it,” and if that means a simplified sound, fine by me! Can’t wait for this to drop tomorrow!

  • Frost15

    If Gorguts and Wormed had a baby this would be it!!! Awesome album.

  • Small Soldier (Visutox)

    Just listened the album, fair score. Also great review.

  • Just listened the album, fair score. Also great review.

  • Jay

    I’m still convinced that AMG’s rankings go from 2 to 3.5 stars rather than 1-5 stars. Seems like every album is rated 3 stars these days at risk of over rating an album. I get the idea to reserve 5 star ratings for AOTY quality albums but there really doesn’t appear to be any way to judge an album based on AMG’s current ranking system, which doesn’t appear to have any depth anymore.

    This is basically what I see:

    Bad album – 2 star
    below average album – 2.5 star
    average album – 3 star
    good album – 3 star
    great album – 3.5 star

    There are of course exceptions but maybe I’m missing all those reviews and only seeing these ones.

    • Nathan McCain

      I would check out the recent Dodecahedron and/or Pallbearer, whichever you like. I can’t speak to kwintessens’ quality, but Heartless definitely stands high above some of the 3.5s here. You’ll also see flaming garbage below 2.0 as well; I think this site has a significantly wider ‘rating window’ than most others.

    • Sean Sky

      There were like a dozen 4-4.5’s in March. I’ve also seen several 1.5’s and below in April. AMG has gotten very tight about the 5/5’s, though. Those things used to get handed out for free! ;)

    • Reese Burns

      Well I think you oughta check the newest review. That’s a perfect 1.0.

      • André Snyde Lopes


        • Reese Burns

          Sorry, shoulda phrased that a bit better. Those weren’t my thoughts on the album, though I’m not all that enamoured with it, I was just trying to point out that it was exactly 1.0.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Oh, don’t get me wrong, it would sit for me somewhere between 2.5 and 3.0. Cuervo, though…

  • Thatguy

    Very good.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      To Eldritch Elitist Night Demon was worth a 3.5, to Kronos Artificial Brain was worth a 3.0, to Thatguy Artificial Brain rates higher than Night Demon. But enough of album rating, what I REALLY want to know is: how does your Band Photometer rank Artificial Brain vs Night Demon?

      • Thatguy

        The Band Photometer says normal looking metal musicians, cool T-shirts, nice trees – a 4.0 at least. Oh, and that’s what it sounds like too.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I noticed the trees, too. Couldn’t help but think they’re standing on asphalt and the picture was taken at the parking lot behind some corner store in a suburb.

          • Thatguy

            Probably true.

            I love how this album has raised so much passion. We really care about what we love – and what we don’t love.

        • toxic_hat

          I’d have thought that the photometer would react negatively towards Lars Ulrich skulking in the background. Can we really trust this machine?

          • Thatguy


            I was trying to ignore him.

          • toxic_hat

            As do we all.

        • Reese Burns

          If I ever start a band, the band photos are just gonna be my old vacation photos, just to see what your machine would do with that.

          • Thatguy

            I’m sure it would approve.

  • Mollusc

    Awesome artwork, gives me the feeling of a darker version of Isaac Asimov’s universe. Cool Magma t-shirt in the band pic.

  • jolly cooperation

    Fuck you, Kronos.

    • Name’s Dalton

      That’s the spirit!

  • Luke_22

    Not sure how I’d rank it against the debut, but really digging this album. So far it’s stacking up to my unreasonable expectations.

  • Embedded track sounds nice. A bit like a more direct Krallice. The vocals work well and I like the cover too. I’ll listen a bit more to this.

  • SegaGenitals

    Gonna jam the dog shit out of this album when it drops tomorrow. Saw Artificial Brain once at a show with Misery Index and Gigan. They stomp ass live.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Had this preordered got it in the mail over the weekend and hasn’t left my cd player yet. 4.5 for me and can’t wait to see them live next weekend

  • Johan

    Judging from the comments here; I’m the only one who didn’t know Artifical brains vocalist is named Will Smith? Oh the possible puns!

    In other news, the album rips. I’m just not sure how well it will hold up a month from now. We’ll see.

  • ashcindersmoke

    Also Kronos I know there’s been some harsh comments but this was a very good review!

  • Haha wtf who are you people

  • Quite like it so far but I have difficulties with the growls that are closer to a Brutal Death metal style vocal. The music is spot on though!

  • One More Thing

    Idk… I think the music sounds pretty strong on this one. I like the contrast in the vocals as it helps keep my attention. Beyond this, can we talk about that artwork? Maybe it’s because I just saw the new Ghost In The Shell movie recently, but that album art is resonating with me. I’m stoked to hear the rest of this.

  • Hammersmith

    This is the soundtrack to being indoctrinated by those Mass Effect Reapers. A 4.0 IMO.

  • Josh

    Been listening to it the last few days nonstop. It feels so much more focused than Labyrinth Constellation. Just as brutal as before, but the black metal gives it more emotion. 3 feels way too low for me personally.

    • Mikell Czermendy

      My feelings exactly. Dissonance and technicality are shocking (in a good way) at first but can quickly lose their staying power. Groovy riffs, interesting songwriting, and a strong atmosphere are what makes an album stand the text of time. This album has everything I listed here. This is the album to beat for me this year and that’s gonna be real tough.

  • SegaGenitals

    While I loved the debut, I am struggling to connect with this album. It may be that I’ve tired of the skronky avant garde sub genre of death metal somewhat as it continues to be oversaturated with new entries that don’t add much to the conversation.

  • Benevolent Sun

    I personally give the album a 4.0, but the review is fair. I have yet to hear their debut album from 2014 so I am hearing this band with fresh ears. I like all the black metal parts mixed in. The melodies ooze out of the wall of pummeling metal. Also, the guitar tone is very bold for that kind of playing. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t make my top ten at the end of the year.

  • Good review. They are doing nothing new as Gorguts children except the extremity, and sounds little soulless… However, the composing itself and performances are at the highest level and did perfectly. Tagging them as Gorguts’d Dillinger Escape Plan, not pure death/black metal. this could be rated 4.0.

  • contenderizer

    History will weigh your words in the balance, Mr. Kronos, and history will not be kind.