Artificial Brain – Artificial Brain Review

Artificial Brain, with or without intending it, has become the gold standard for modern death metal. Seamlessly blending earth-rumbling death metal with the raw edges and tines of black metal and adding a dissonant edge that embarks on voyages across dimensions, I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew. I feel as if I’ve intruded upon something holy, as the mighty Kronos waxed poetic about Labyrinth Constellation and Infrared Horizon, and I, a whisper in the cosmic winds, inherited the New York quintet’s third and self-titled full-length. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Artificial Brain is firing on all cylinders.

There’s a lot at risk when releasing a self-titled. Stamping an act’s namesake upon a work of art brands it, and Artificial Brain, its third and final installment in a trilogy fronted by longtime vocalist Will Smith,1 amplifies this roll of the universal die. Everything you’ve come to know and love about the act is present, and in many ways, Artificial Brain is Artificial Brain at its best. Chunky riffs, warped melodies, wonky rhythms, and vocals straight out of the depths of R’lyeh greet the ears, and it all feels far more balanced than Infrared Horizon. Ultimately, Artificial Brain attempts to balance the sounds of its predecessors for a riffy, dense, and otherworldly experience.

Artificial Brain is all about balance, and while their debut was all riff, and the follow-up focused on blackened atmosphere, the third time’s the charm. It never forsakes the riff, as songs like “Artificial Brain,” “Celestial Cyst,” and “Embalmed with Magma” are saturated to the brim with chunky leads highlighted by Gorguts-influenced melodies and blackened Dodecahedron tremolos. Tracks like “Tome of the Exiled Engineer,” “Cryogenic Dreamworld,” and “Parasite Signal” feature more sprawling layers of melodies and vocals. While each cut has its own highlights strewn throughout Artificial Brain‘s asteroid belt, it would be tempting to call Artificial Brain inconsistent or chaotic, but the act has the benefit of its members firing on all cylinders2 and its songwriting being bulletproof. Much in line with the greats of similarly inclined Demilich or Immolation, the ten tracks here flow together with the organicity of cascading water as if adhering to a story. “Insects and Android Eyes” epitomizes this in a single song, as its central riff approaches proverbial swarm-like intensity while the barren wasteland of its haunting melodies and rhythms sighs to meet the dying sun. Meanwhile, the warped “Last Words of the Wobbling Sun” takes on a nearly stratospheric melodic free-fall as synth and guitar leads whip across the ears with untethered freneticism until it collapses into the earth with doom-laden heft undergirded by vicious double bass and scathing dissonance.

Artificial Brain is a fitting album to stamp the act’s moniker upon, as it hopes to marry the best of its two predecessors into one wretched union. That being said, Artificial Brain‘s style largely departs from the pitch-black apocalyptic tones of its history in favor of fluidity. In comparison to the cosmic madness of Labyrinth Constellation or the hopeless cries of Infrared Horizon, Artificial Brain feels remarkably human. Some qualms of the average listener may include, for instance, the somewhat random snare tone shift to pong blasts in “Celestial Cyst,” “Embalmed with Magma,” and “Last Words of the Wobbling Sun,” which can derail listener attention. While humanity was a far cry in the mechanical Infrared Horizon, tracks here like “Tome of the Exiled Engineer” and “Parasite Signal” sound nearly melancholic, which can feel like a departure from the act’s signature technical apathy, although they’d constitute some of the biggest death metal highlights of the year otherwise.

“Last Words of a Wobbling Sun” feels like the last whisper of an era, a fitting conclusion to a trilogy of one of death metal’s premier acts. While Artificial Brain is far from over, its marriage of dissonance, brutality, and blackened mood makes its self-titled album one whose story no longer dwells on the barren shell of a devastated planet, but rather takes to the stars. While it opens up forgotten vistas of cosmic exploration for the now-quartet, Artificial Brain feels slightly lacking, even if its balance keeps its creators at the forefront of the metalverse. While its predecessors felt progressive and innovative, Artificial Brain feels decidedly comfortable on its self-titled, and while the record may be marred by slight songwriting snafus, it’s a logical step that they were destined or doomed to take and remains a stunning addition to the act’s already legendary catalog.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Websites: artificialbrain.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/artificialbrainmusic
Releases Worldwide: June 3rd, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Is it safe to say that this album slaps? – Holdeneye
  2. 2022 continues to see the emergence of Samuel Smith.
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