Prelude to Fear: French Terror, Turkish Upheaval, Intronaut Live and the World’s Direction Toward Last Things (7/15/16)

Beginning our special report on the Republican National Convention means taking things back to last week when I saw Intronaut on their new tour supporting their terrific new album “The Direction of Last Things”.  Had I actually published my list of favorite albums of 2015, you would have known I was a big fan, with the album occupying the #6 position on my best albums of the year list.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to see them perform this album in its entirety at The Foundry, a small metal oriented club just down the street from my new locale on Cleveland’s west side.

Unfortunately though, this is the beginning of our special report on the R.N.C., and as a result we’ll be discussing some current events.  In the last week which led up to this show, some fucking idiot in France ran a semi truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day, killing over 80 people, and in Turkey, their “president” was subject to a coup and subsequent information revealed the likelihood of a staged event to bolster his authoritarian, religiously driven power trip.  These two events flickered back and forth on the television hanging above the bar at The Foundry when I arrived.  On the television to the right, a UFC fight.  The opening band was terrible, but the bleak atmosphere set by the violence elsewhere in the world juxtaposed with the entertainment of violence at home while I awaited Intronaut’s set to begin.  The world itself was headed in the direction of last things.

To get back to the actual point of this post though, Intronaut were fucking fantastic in replicating “The Direction of Last Things” in this tiny, cramped club.  Intronaut played an Ohio date several years ago opening up for Tool in an arena, which you would expect to fit the scope of this album’s sound more.  However, in this tiny space, Intronaut could have made you believe you were on another plane of reality, rid of the violent world spilling out from the televisions on the walls.  If you’ve heard “The Direction of Last Things”, witnessing the album performed live will do nothing but further your appreciation for the meticulous sonic detail and showmanship.  “Fast Worms” started things off in the right direction (of last things?), but it was the album’s epics “Digital Gerrymandering” and “The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing” that really put this show over the top.  These songs are almost certainly difficult to translate to a live setting, but Intronaut make it look effortless and sound as fantastic as the actual album.  The shorter songs on the album, the title track and “The Pleasant Surprise” boil down the sludgy and sprawling tendencies into a more concise format, to excellent effect.  “Sul Ponticello” was a highlight for me when I first listened to the album, and seeing it live only strengthens that perception, and “City Hymnal” is a fine closer.  They played three more songs in the encore from their previous albums, “Core Relations” from Valley of Smoke, “Milk Leg” from Habitual Levitations and “The Literal Black Cloud” from Prehistoricisms closed out the set.  For the hour or so that they played, Intronaut had a very weird visual projected behind them which helped alleviate the trappings of the small room in which we saw The Direction of Last Things go down.  Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick were great, and Danny Walker has the reputation of being one of modern metal’s best drummers for all the right reasons, but the real unsung hero of Intronaut is fretless bass player Joe Lester.  Being a sucker for music with an emphasis on bass guitar, I really fucking enjoyed his performance and he was occupying front and center stage the entire night.  He deserved this placement, and Intronaut have quickly established themselves as one of my favorite rhythm sections in heavy metal as a result of this concert.  I would very much recommend seeing them if they play near you, or even just open up for a bigger band like Mastodon or Tool as they’ve been known to do.  Although I highly doubt Tool or Mastodon in 2016 can really compare with Intronaut, who are at the top of their own endgame right now.

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