Artificial Brain - Labyrinth Constellation 01Being quite the Revocation fan, I was pleasantly surprised earlier this year to see that Dave Davidson’s partner in crime, Dan Gargiulo, was involved in a death metal side project. That band, Artificial Brain, released their first full-length, Labyrinth Constellation this February, and we unfortunately didn’t get the chance to review it. As some of our more kvlt readers pointed out, this was a mistake, as the record could have easily topped the February RoTM list (sorry, Soreption). Come winter, it’s high time we repent for our sins and present the review all twelve of you have been waiting for.

At first glance, Labyrinth Constellation seems like a mess, there’s as much Gorguts-y bass noodling as there is Demilich guttural worship going on in “Brain Transplant,” and the song’s abrupt ending leaves a lot of loose ends out there. Labyrinth Constellation‘s disparate stylistic strings cross and recross each other to form dense tangles and knots. Yet out of this inscrutable morass, the album builds fortresses of darkness, spires of beauty, and webs of translucent vapor. It’s as difficult as it is rewarding, and for those prepared for the challenge will not return unscathed.

Labyrinth Constellation‘s enveloping and ceaseless commitment to the alien brings with it a change of locale. The atmosphere is heady with sulfurous fumes, oxidizing atom by atom the rusting guitars, whose very strings seem to cast a fine dust of hematite onto the alien ground above which they wretchedly resonate, their haunting calling out to the unspeakable forms lingering upon the edges of perception. Sputtering, and honking, the bass slithers around them restlessly, lashing out of every gap in their twisted chrysalis and fighting the guitars’ relentless gravitation with its own subversive countermelodies. Narrating their struggle is a rotting mouth, clogged with alchemical waste and emitting an incessant rain of dust. This cohort staggers and weaves through plummeting blasts and spacious interludes, forced by the percussion’s topography to straggle from karst to crater, wading through infested fumaroles and icy caverns into vacuum. Without a home in sight and forced into perpetual motion, Labyrinth Constellation evokes both constant discovery and the weariness that accompanies it when each new incomprehensibility slides quickly by, forever opaque and lost to memory. The showstopping “Absorbing Black Ignition” starts out as a grating, mass of Teitanblood-grade hideousness, before slipping into one of this year’s most infectious grooves and then effortlessly introducing a scintillating and surprisingly complex lead. By any measure it’s one of the year’s best songs; extremely memorable and powerful, it pulls you in as surely and as deeply as its disturbing exit then pulls the band back into the distance, overtaken by massive organ synths.

More gems erupt from the substrate as Labrynth Constellation drags its pitted surface past your ears; “Worm Harvester” and many of the album’s earlier tracks dredge up muck with a twisted almost-slam sensibility, but the band is at their best during the second half of the album. “Labyrinth Constellation” mixes in more of the atrophied melody hinted at in “Absorbing Black Ignition” to create a cavernous but beautiful atmosphere which the band trudges and dives through, eventually collapsing to usher in “Hormone’s Echo.” “Moon Funeral” ends the album stunningly, packing in some of the album’s most memorable buildups and motifs before it comes to an end.

Artificial Brain - Labyrinth Constellation 02

Tying all of this excellence together is a fantastic production and mastering job by Menegroth‘s Colin Marston. His efforts have truly brought out the frantic, uneasy and hideous nature of the album while keeping the instruments incredibly balanced and natural, and I really wish more producers would follow his lead here. With a less stellar production job, this album could have been greatly less impactful.

Simply put, Labyrinth Constellation is an essential listen. It’s extremely inventive, relentlessly rewarding, and as addictive as it is beautifully made. With this triumphant introduction, Artificial Brain are poised to cement themselves alongside Ulcerate, Portal, Baring Teeth and Pyrrhon as harbingers of death metal’s next form, a form both uncomfortable and unfamiliar, yet far from unwelcome.

Tracks to Check: “Absorbing Black Ignition,” “Hormone’s Echo,” “Moon Funeral”

Share →
  • Kalsten

    You have to review the new Mors Principium Est. It is awesome!!

    Cool that you reviewed this Artificial Brain too. I am liking it in Spotify right now :)

  • brutal_sushi

    Things You Might Have Missed 2014: Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars

    • Yegar

      Can’t agree enough. goddamn

  • Wilbur Teegrus

    Cormorant – Earth Diver next pls

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I’d be keen to see a Cormorant review too

  • Could we like, give Colin Marston an MVP award of Metaldom? I can pitch in a few bucks for that cause. I’ve already bought a lot of records were he had his talented hands into, I just wanna throw money at the guy but that seems not really efficient.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Im sure he wouldn’t complain :). He’s definitely one off the best DM producer’s out there in my opinion

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This record fucking rulz, Colin Marston is a genius.
    I find something new to get into almost everytime I put it on. I really hear a strong Mastodon influence in the guitars as well.
    I’d have to say that this, Morbus Chron and the Horrendous record are my favourite DM records this year. With the added bonus that all of them were total surprises for me.

    • Kronos

      If memory serves me, you were the reader who shamed us for not making this ROTM for February.
      So now you get what you wanted. Kind of.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yes :) I was haranguing everybody about this record

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        good review BTW

  • Are Mitochondrion considered members of that group of harbringers?Nevertheless Labyrinth Constellation is easily one of the best metal records of 2014.I also expect Dead Congregation to be included in things you might have missed…

    • Kronos

      Yeah, I’d put Mitochondrion in there with them, though I’m personally much more familiar with the other bands, which is why I mentioned them.

    • mrshampoo

      2014 was so crazy for death metal. as you said there was ‘Labyrinth Constellation’ and ‘Dead Congregation’, but also the ‘Morbus Chron’ and ‘Horrendous’ Albums were just up there. sick.

  • OzanCan

    Is it me or is there something going on between AMG and Nuclear Blast? They don’t send any promos for reviewing anymore? I mean there are lots of bands’ albums came out recently from Nuclear Blast records but I haven’t seen them reviewed here. Maybe I missed them along the way?
    Of course, I am asking this out of curiousity. I am not here to judge and I still love and admire the work you all have been doing here :)

    • Kronos

      We usually get promo from them pretty late, so we miss quite a few of their releases.

      At least that’s my understanding…

  • Luke_22

    Phenomenal album and one of my favs of the year. This is such a unique, superbly produced tech death album with a bizarro proggy streak. Good write-up as well, sums it up nicely.