Following 2013’s Cosmic Child, Infernal Machine – a concept album based on Joe Haldeman’s cult sci-fi novel The Forever War – represents a break away from the Swedish quartet’s usual sonic palette, which through previous releases saw them swim in a lysergic soup of Mastodon-like intensity and Isis-ish heavy noodling.
Infernal Machine, then, sees The Keepers extending their spheres of influence and at least attempting to challenge their audience, even if not always successfully. Opener The Forever War is an 11-minute crawl that sounds like John Carpenter interpreting Led Zeppelin at the wrong speed. Tracks Over Carcosa sounds like a post-metal/sci-fi slant on a guitar riff nicked from a 60s TV spy show, while Misantropin Kallar is little more than Carpenter-inspired filler.
At least on Escape Aleph Minor the group delve into more familiar territory, all snappy drumming and wandering, cosmic guitars, but it’s a square peg among the more pleasing experimentation.