Intronaut's The Direction Of Last Things is not a perfect album, although it's likely the best album that the band are ever going to put out. They've palpably pared down their self-indulgence to a point where it's easy to imagine them being unable to be more concise without turning into 1980s Genesis. This is a longform band, folks, and their noodling is your Hobson's choice.
But even with the best audio production and some of the most aggressive riffs of their careers, Intronaut never fail to remind you that they are geeks with glasses. I don't mind that they're prog-nerds, of course, but it's almost sweet how hard they work at proving their jazz-metal bona fides. And therein lies the problem: cerebral music of this high caliber tends to be ill-prepared when up against a clever rage attack.
The Armed's Untitled is not a perfect album, either. Its mainstay is a nouveau-retro punkcore that reminds me of the 90s, and the music has an anonymizing sameness to it, if you ignore the hooks peppered liberally throughout. But this Kurt Ballou-produced onslaught is so much more energetic than the Intronaut, while being simultaneously clever. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call it a concept album, but it's certainly more than it seems at first blush... and that makes for an exciting listen, every time.
And so, the Gilded Arse goes to a band I'd never heard of a year ago. I love Intronaut, but I need The Armed.