This is a very interesting contest tonight, because both these bands are from the NYC area once again, and because I love both these albums, and because both albums are far from perfect.
Artificial Brain begin the onslaught with their Labyrinth Constellation. It's a harrowing alien punishment, all Gorguts and dissonance and the lowest Cookie Monster growls of 2014. Once you get into the band's twisted mindset, the music all makes sense, all fits into a cohesive vibe. But after a while, the tracks start to sound too similar, and that makes the album feel like it's running long. You can still digest it in a single go, but you'll feel like more time has passed than it has. Torrential Downpour, on the other hand, tilt a bit too far in the other direction, giving the unprepared listener almost no bearing or reference point to anchor oneself. After the downright menacing triple threat of the first third of Truth Knowledge Vision, the band's fabric starts to show signs of unraveling with Hyperion, and then completely discard the thread for the next third of the album. The band return to form with the last third, but you're left with a difficult middle stretch that is so self-indulgent, it requires a force of effort to sit through. At least with Labyrinth Constellation, if you can't make it through their album, you have a sense that the failure is with your stamina. So, as much as it pains me to say goodbye to Torrential Downpour, tonight is Artificial Brain's time to shine!
Tomorrow we start the right half of the bracket, with Aborted and Rigor Mortis. It's gonna be raw.