There’s nothing like artistic progression, maturation, and improvement. With Valley of Smoke, INTRONAUT take their melancholic and atmospheric style of prog to a new level. New sounds, tighter songwriting, and better arrangements color the record. Yes, those pristine clean electric guitars, manly bass lines, doomy heaviness, instrumental passages, and technical yet tasteful musicianship are all intact.
However, what jumps out more than anything else are the predominant use of clean vocals courtesy of lead vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable and guitarist Dave Timnick. “Tasteful” and “fitting” are the words that best describe these vocals. These long understated bellows add a new dimension to an already multifaceted sound.
Valley of Smoke is painted with that trademark textured prog soundscape that INTRONAUT is known for. And when I say “prog,” I’m referring to the prog of bands like YES and KING CRIMSON. An interesting observation is that there are many riffs and passages that could have easily fit into an ENSLAVED or IHSAHN album.
When is the last time you listened to an album that did not have a single straight forward, traditional, or simple drum pattern? Probably never. Well, drummer extraordinaire Danny Walker has laid down one of the most musical, skilled, and just plain excellent drum performances in heavy music. I bet your favorite drummer would be lovestruck by the highly creative drum patterns of Mr. Walker.
For the icing on the cake, TOOL‘s Justin Chancellor makes a guest appearance on the instrumental title track. Seriously, what does that say about INTRONAUT?
With each subsequent listen and the passage of time, Valley of Smoke will progressively make more sense. Subsequently, your appreciation of one of the most unique bands in extreme music will only increase. (Century Media Records)