Intronaut are a somewhat strange animal among the sludge metal flock. They certainly have the massive sludge groove, but they’re equally at home in jazz, fusion and progressive rock/metal. Quite a challenging sound comes out of this, which reflects upon albums like Void (2006) and Prehistoricisms (2008). Subject of this review is Valley Of Smoke (2010), their latest effort.

The origins of life are the central theme on this album and it’s a continuation of what the band have touched on Prehistoricisms. Musically speaking Intronaut make good use of the lessons learned from the previous record and take things to the next level on Valley Of Smoke. The songs are more intricate, all the different elements that make the typical Intronaut sound flow really well together and the band even added some clean vocals here and there.

The best examples of Intronaut’s growth are compositions like ‘Elegy’, ‘Miasma’, ‘Sunderance’, ‘Below’ and the epic title track. The latter track is in fact a grand summary of all the elements that make Valley Of Smoke such an outstanding album. Another great aspect of this album are the contrasts between the softer and the harsher parts within each song. This really enhances the sense of artistic adventure and musicianship. Another nice feature is the guest appearance of Justin Chancellor (Tool) on the title track.

Intronaut also stepped up in the sound department. Valley Of Smoke has a clear and warm production, which enhances the jazzy elements, but also grants the heavy parts enough power. The best of both worlds so to speak.

If you’re into adventurous sludge metal with a jazzy progressive streak, than Valley Of Smoke by Intronaut is the record to go for. Arguably the band’s finest effort to date.

Intronaut – MySpace page