In today’s world, the modern metal scene finds itself facing an odd paradox of being more diverse and varied than ever before, while also having a notably larger number of puritans than a lot of other music scenes. As such, the word “gimmick” gets thrown around way more than it has any right to be, and with an act like The Algorithm I’d say that finding this label tossed about is pretty much a given. However, with the release of its latest album Brute Force, The Algorithm not only completely dismisses the notion of being merely a “gimmick act” but evolves its sound into something new, diverse and undoubtedly exciting, establishing itself as a confident frontrunner in its field.
Let’s start from the top. The Algorithm is essentially the brainchild of self-proclaimed “blipblip metal” producer Rémi Gallego, which burst into the attention of the progressive metal/djent scene with the 2012 album Polymorphic Code, catching everyone off-guard with its unique fusion of electronic and djent stylings which had not been done to quite the same degree beforehand. Since 2012, however, The Algorithm’s sound has undergone something of an evolution. The core fusion of djent rhythms and electronic melodies which fans have grown to love are still both prominent throughout Brute Force, as made immediately clear by the opening track ‘boot’, however each execution of this pattern feels wholly unique thanks to wider variety of synth leads which scatter themselves all about the album.
In addition to this, the clear number of shifts in tone and style make the album feel consistently fresh; no two songs are quite alike so I always felt fully engaged and excited for each upcoming track (overcoming the biggest issue I had faced with previous recordings by The Algorithm). To put it simply, Brute Force is genre-hopping and never stopping. Stylistic influences on tracks could vary from synthwave to black metal, from post-rock to breakcore, from ambient to dance, and all while maintaining a signature style which could only be associated with Gallego’s special concoction of sound. Even the more conventional Algorithm tracks such as the main singles ‘floating point’ and ‘pointers’ each have countless standout moments and stylistic shifts which establish them as noteworthy songs.
Another core ingredient which makes Brute Force stand out considerably among the discography of The Algorithm is the various inclusions of guitarwork throughout the album. Be it the more clean, melodic inclusions on songs like ‘floating point’ which remind one of acts like Plini, the more atmospheric additions such as those used in ‘brute force’ and ‘hex’, or the heavier, chugging chords found throughout the various djent sections of the album, the guitars always manage to add a brand new texture to the formula that is The Algorithm.
Special mention also needs to be given to the two tracks which epitomise the versatility The Algorithm has put on display. The first is ‘deadlock’, with a cheeky old-time spoken word intro introducing the act’s heaviest material yet, rivalling even the more brutal works of fellow djent acts such as Meshuggah and the over the top insanity of fellow Frenchman Igorrr (who just so happens to feature on this track).
The second, on the other hand, shows an enormous amount of influences from not only France but all over the musical world. ‘userspace’ brings so many new elements to the table for The Algorithm fans that I find it hard not to consider it the largest standout on Brute Force. Opening with an ambience which sounds heavily inspired by Daft Punk’s sense of atmosphere combined with the chord progressions of a band like Leprous, the song continues growing and developing its themes, never once seeming tired or running out of steam with its ideas. In an instant, a sombre, peaceful groove can seamlessly transition into a post-rock anthem which would make even the frontrunners of the genre beam with satisfaction. From there some heavy electronics can take over the piece, transforming it once more, this time into an underground dance track reminiscent of synthwave classics.
It’s precisely this flawless integration of such unique musical diversity which makes ‘userspace’ the perfect poster-song for what Brute Force does right. Not every song pulls off this creative diversity with the same degree of finesse as ‘userspace’, mind you, but it would be hard to classify the overall product as anything but a joy to listen to. This album proves once and for all that Gallego is far from a one trick pony when it comes to songwriting, while also establishing itself as both The Algorithm’s most diverse and highest quality album yet. It’s colourful, atmospheric, energising, moody, heavy and experimental, making for one heck of a wild ride. A ride you definitely won’t want to leave any time soon.
(A press copy of this album was used for this review.)
1: boot – 3:27
2: floating point – 5:07
3: pointers – 4:39
4: brute force – 5:21
5: userspace – 6:15
6: shellcode – 4:24
7: hex – 5:03
8: deadlock (Ft. Igorrr) – 2:33
9: rootkit – 4:47
10: trojans (hard mode) – 4:21
Total running time: 45:46
Label: FiXT (US)
PR: Hold Tight! PR
File type listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 320kbps VBR
Sampling Frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels