“Fluid Existential Inversions”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Not too many bands typify the modern prog metal sound more than INTRONAUT. After a 5 year absence, they’re back, this time on Metal Blade Records, and they pretty much pick up right where they left off. 

Despite all the claims about exploring new territory and creating new paradigms, “Fluid Existential Inversions” is very much along the lines of a 21st century modern prog band. There’s intense bass/drum interplay ala TOOL, a pendulum like swing between heavy and delicate that can be found in many post-metal bands and the jagged angularity of VOI VOD. The playing here is jaw-droppingly precise and INTRONAUT’s ability to radically change time and mood in a split second is unquestioned. But if you listen to a lot of this stuff, nothing here is breaking any barriers.

It is compulsively listenable if you are not a slave to the old school, though. If the band starts a song with bone-jarring heaviness like “Tripolar” or “Check Your Misfortune”, you can be sure they will eventually shift to something more melodic and less intense, usually with a jangly guitar tone. On the flip side, if a track starts with the less heavy, it will build to a mighty climax. It’s fascinating to pay attention to the shifting in all the songs. There isn’t a single song here that ends in the same place it began and typical verse/chorus/verse stuff is out the window.

The two cuts I named above are my favorite because of their overall intensity, but “Pangloss” has a thick groove that will appeal to TOOL fans while “Sour Everythings” is the most experimental and meandering song. Metal is a part of every song, but you have to be open to the “modern” iteration of it. Even though that “modern” sound has now lasted close to 20 years.

Although not really to my taste,  INTRONAUT is still one of the best at what they do.