Sound — 4
Inspired by The Dillinger Escape Plan's penchants for being both heavy-hitting and experimental, Remi Gallego founded The Algorithm in 2009 with the initiative of combining the intensity of metal with a wide range of electronica influences. Of course, plenty other metal acts had walked the hybrid path of metal/electronica by the time Gallego released the project's debut album, "Polymorphic Code," in 2012 (Enter Shikari dabbled with dubstep back in 2009, and numerous electronicore acts threw in rave-inducing synth arpeggios in their breakdowns with shit-eating grins), but the debut album's plethora of electronica styles brandished - trance, drum 'n' bass, hardstyle, house, ambient and more - won brownie points for its variance of influences. From that large array, however, Gallego would show more cohesion in The Algorithm's follow-up album, 2014's "Octopus4," where a chiptune focus held together the continued winding path of dubstep, metal and trance moments.
But whereas "Octopus4" slimmed down on the metal aspect compared to "Polymorphic Code," The Algorithm invests even more in metal intensity in the project's aptly named third album, "Brute Force." Along with using more djent/dubstep sections, Gallego throws the guitar/drum programming into overdrive more often, heard in the pneumatic blastbeat/tremolo sections of "Pointers," "Hex," and the titular song, as well as the jittery tradeoff riffing between the guitars/drums/dubstep synths in "Shellcode." However, this frenzied primary characteristic of the album also wears itself out very quickly. Even outside of the fact that the hybrid guitar/dubstep chug riffs have generally grown stale throughout the years, the album's opening stretch in particular ("Boot," "Floating Point," "Pointers," "Brute Force") blurs into a homogenous slog of chugging, chopping, throbbing noises and hyperactive synth arpeggios (another sonic tool The Algorithm leans on too often). And though the overclocked metal moments try to showcase a relentlessness that's literally inhuman, they ring with hollowness due to that same robotic characteristic, making one want to break out an Origin album to get a proper dose of organic metal intensity.
With this primary goal of being "harder, better, faster, stronger," the other musical moments thrown into "Brute Force" are mostly meager continuations of genre-dabbling previously purveyed in past albums, like the chiptune-style melodies or trance sections peppered throughout. A couple of points do provide both relief from the hammering monotony and bring something new to the table, where the aggressive overtone of the album gets restrained for the sake of more elaborate songwriting: in "Userspace," the jazzy and post-rock guitar parts reminisce the artsier side of The Algorithm heard in "Octopus4," while the modular synth melodies sound quite inspired by the '80s revival styling of the "Hotline Miami 2" soundtrack (which echoes again in "Hex"); and the electro-house groove of the penultimate "Rootkit" builds up to a nice crest of righteous synths and guitar leads, despite a touch of cheesy string melodies. But with the ending "Trojans (Hard Mode)" being a whiplashed rework of the "Polymorphic Code" single that eventually smears into a mess of jarring compositional ADHD, it makes for a perfect summation of the hyperbolic sound of "Brute Force."
Lyrics — 4
[There are no vocals on this album.]
Overall Impression — 4
On multiple levels, "Brute Force" exudes the dullness of the metal/electronica hybrid. In the bigger picture, The Algorithm's raison for connecting the energies between metal and electronica is a common thing in today's metal world, and with plenty of other bands having dabbled with this fusion, the path is substantially more beaten. But more specifically for The Algorithm, what once was intended to be an experimental mashing of genres has now turned into a very status quo formula in "Brute Force." Instead of trying to reshape or innovate, "Brute Force" just takes the same kind of chugging guitars, glitchy synth noises and spastic arpeggios that The Algorithm has used before, and just throws them even harder and faster at the listener. Ultimately, this escalation of loudness and intensity causes "Brute Force" to be exhausting and lacking of intrigue.