Sound — 10
After what I'm sure has been a long wait for Intronaut fans, their third full length album, Valley of Smoke, finally released on October 12th, 2010 in America. It was clear from the start that Intronaut were planning to go in a new direction with this record, and this is very evident in every aspect of the album from vocals and instrumentation, to the production itself. The band have managed to keep their (maybe a little less unique these days...) style of contrasting heavy and mellow passages, but this time, the riffs are sludgier, the bass is jazzier and most noticeably, the vocals are much less harsh.
Lyrics — 8
With vocalist Sacha Dunable resorting to harmonized singing a lot more than growling on this record, we see a new side to his vocal style, which I feel suits the band's musical approach really well, at times even better than harsh vocals would have. I don't have much to say about the lyrics, besides that they go well enough with the flow of the album.
Overall Impression — 10
My picks from the album would have to be "Elegy", due to its sheer brutality as an opening track and it's ability to define the musical setting of the album perfectly; "Miasma", possibly the heaviest track on the album and for being pretty much exactly what you would expect to hear from Intronaut; "Core Relations", as the mellowest song on the album, perfectly displaying the band's ability to cater to its vast stoner audience, and "Below" for being another perfect example of Intronaut's current sound. However, my absolute favourite (and most listened to) song on this album would have to be the self titled instrumental, "Valley of Smoke", a sheer display of power and skill by the absolutely incredible rhythm section of the band comprising of bassist Joe Lester and percussionist Danny Walker, and some truly awe-inspiring sludge riffage by the guitarists. For me, the high point of this album would have to be the break at about 3:20 on "Valley of Smoke". A dreamy, torpor inducing wave of music, complete with tabla and fretless bass. Another noteworthy point, this particular song also makes use of two separate drum and bass tracks. Overall, I give this album a perfect 10. It's true, there are some moments that seem a little pointless or meandering, but they serve to make the rest of the album all the more enjoyable. If my copy of the album was for some reason stolen, I would first find out who did it, forcefully retrieve my copy and then go buy a new one as well. - Rasik