Okay, so I think it’s about time I ventured over to the heavier side of music. I’m not always in the mood to listen to something aggressive and/or with heavy distortion, but when I am, I’m ready to RAGE. Throughout many of the formative years of my youth, I satisfied this desire by listening to heavy metal music – everything from Dream Theater to Periphery, from Avenged Sevenfold to Sum 41 (my punk rock phase directly preceded the heavy metal phase). Once I started going to college, I was exposed to heavy electronic bass music (Zomboy comes to mind), which fulfilled the same need for chest-pounding, head-banging jams. Having established all of that history, you can imagine my delight when I first discovered The Algorithm, the musical lovechild of metal and dubstep. I can say, without a doubt, that Rémi Gallego (the man behind the moniker) has one of the most unique sounds that I’ve ever been exposed to. Basically, he combines modern djent metal breakdowns with experimental glitch electronica, and throws an ample helping of dubstep wobbles in there for good measure. Okay, now read that sentence again. Intrigued yet? Let’s continue then.https://audiointimacy.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/02-bouncing-dot.mp3%20
Building a bridge between heavy metal music and electronica is a daring move, no question. Although you certainly have the potential to appeal to two huge audiences instead of one, you also run the risk of polarizing the entire playing field. Mashing together two styles with entirely separate fan bases may lead to both groups rejecting you. I could definitely see such a thing happening, but only if the artist wasn’t very well-versed in both styles. One listen to Polymorphic Code (The Algorithm’s first and only studio album), and it’s obvious that we’re dealing with a highly skilled musician.
Anyone who listens to djent metal knows that it’s a style characterized by incredibly complex compositions, and it requires the success of many musical elements working together at any given time in order to be pulled off well. Electronica frequently focuses more on sonic textures and production techniques. It takes an extraordinary knowledge of music synthesis and a refined skill set in the studio to create electronic music that can compete with the current industry standard. Not only does The Algorithm excel in both of these areas, he brings them together to pioneer a new fusion of genres.
From the very first track, “Handshake,” it becomes immediately clear that the listener is in for a treat. Slamming in immediately with one of the heaviest glitch-metal breakdowns of the album, Polymorphic Code takes no prisoners. The method with which is Gallego incorporates electronic elements into an otherwise straightforward cornerstone of the metal musical vocabulary is ingenious. Somehow, he is able to make it sound even more epic than it already was. The electronica influence amplifies the sense of controlled chaos, and it has a profound effect on the music’s brutality.
If you’re approaching this album from the metal side, one of your complaints with its defining sound is that the guitar and drums sound too programmed. I would definitely agree that if you were to consider The Algorithm as a classic metal band, you might be a bit thrown off by the variations in production. The point here, however, is not to flawlessly imitate a sound which has come to be used so frequently that it is expected. Instead, he focuses on developing a unique sound of his own, and in that regard he has succeeded with flying colors.
From the electronica perspective, anyone who knows their stuff will recognize clear influence from glitch, breakcore, IDM, and dubstep. There’s even some lighter elements of subgenres like trance that pop their ethereal heads above ground every once in a while. Rhythmically, the grooves in Polymorphic Code frequently switch back and forth between steady four-on-the-floor dance beats and progressive, metrically-modulating goodness.
Perhaps one of The Algorithm’s most impressive accomplishments is his live show. Gallego himself focuses on working the laptop and the Akai APC40 controller, which is to be expected with any heavily electronic artist. Perhaps what is not as expected is his use of a live drummer. Mike Malyan, the drummer for progressive metal band Monuments, has joined him to play his music live, which is no small feat. Word on the street is that Max Michel has also started playing live guitar along with The Algorithm. To get a good idea of how that might work, check out this video.
Polymorphic Code is innovation at its best, and one step closer towards the future of music. It is breakthrough artists like The Algorithm that help to get everyone else’s creative juices flowing. The 23-year-old Rémi Gallego has a blossoming career ahead of him, and I look forward to hearing what he has to offer in the days to come.