02. Bouncing Dot
04. Access Granted
05. Logic Bomb
06. Warp Gate Exploit
The Algorithm is a djent/IDM project from French programmer/guitarist Rémi Gallego. His two previous releases, 2009’s The Doppler Effect, and 2010’s Critical.Error showcased a uniquely fragmented artist: a tad too electronic to simply be metal, and clearly far too in-tune with, and inspired by, the latest permutations of progressive metal to be considered purely electronic. Polymorphic Code blurs the line even more, and this time around, Gallego is far more judicious with his application of metal, bringing the balance to near 50/50.
Thirty seconds into the first track, you’ll know exactly what Polymorphic Code is about, unless of course you’ve never heard The Algorithm before, in which case you’ll have no fucking clue until your brain recovers from the initial onset of convulsive fits. It’s like sonically-induced epilepsy the first time you hear it, and it’s glorious. Synth arpeggios descend upon tightly compressed chugging guitars, as a bed of drums (half of which are obviously 808-like samples, the other half very convincingly programmed metal drums, a la Drumkit From Hell) punctuates the tommy-gun cadence. All of this, mind you, is being constantly manipulated as Gallego chops the song up into little staccato bites, twisting and contorting every other bar, sweeping frequency bands, among various other effects processing. It’s all so delightfully disorienting.
This kind of chaotic electro-metal concoction has been attempted before. Bands like Genghis Tron pulled off a similar sound years ago, to mostly laudable results. Other bands, like Sky Eats Airplane and Idiot Pilot played up the pop aspect of the mixture, and were subsequently relegated to Hot Topic bins and various pigeonhole-able tour circuits, such as those typically sponsored by energy drinks or shoe companies. Thankfully, The Algorithm has managed to steer clear of those pitfalls, primarily thanks to his status as an in-betweener. He is perfectly able to entertain crowds of a more…ecstatic bent. You know, like Mostly Drugged Music Appreciators. [Club kids. There, I said it.] Gallego’s status as an electronic artist, first and foremost, allows him access to a world previously uninhabitable to those who tried to walk the tightrope between metal and electronica.
That’s the best part of this and any Algorithm release; it’s electronic music with the soul of metal. It’s not mere samples, copied and pasted on top of the same, predictable dub/house beats that every other BigChocSkrillMau5Buuren has been cranking out lately. This guy really gets metal on a very fundamental level – enough so even that he’s enlisted Monuments drummer Mike Malyan to provide acoustic drum accompaniment for the live shows.
But here’s the problem: every song is such a roller coaster of dynamics and frenetic changes, listening to the album can quickly become a tedious undertaking. Again, this isn’t because the music is bad, because it’s not. This taxing effect is a result of inefficient pacing and perhaps a little bit of overzealousness on the part of Mr. Gallego. Perhaps a little too much credence was given to the club scene mindset of ‘too much is never enough.’ It’s as if he was saying “Hey! You like high-octane, schizophrenic, balls-out dubmetal bangers? Ok. Here’s 45 minutes straight of just that, over and over, until you collapse into a writhing puddle of fluorescent carrion from all the awesome.” It’s almost a ridiculous thing to gripe about, but it’s true. The previous albums had just enough chill elements interspersed throughout to provide a momentary recuperation for your ears, but not so on Polymorphic Code. Some form of release, some rest, just a breather or two would have helped immensely.
Here’s a great showing of just what the talented Mr. Malyan can bring to The Algorithm’s live shows. This track, now titled “Access Granted“, is very representative of the album as a whole: