The fervor with which Steven Archer continues to address the follies of mankind in our post-modern society is almost alarming, especially on his latest effort. Drawing inspiration from the cataclysmic implications of Robin Hanson’s titular theory, The Great Filter sees Stoneburner proceeding down some of the outfit’s bleakest material… and, ironically, some of its catchiest. Not that Archer has ever been one to completely shun a good dance beat, usually subverting its inherently pleasurable qualities with ample amounts of noise and distortion, but there is a directness to the rhythms on these seven tracks that is quite arresting. This is particularly so on the opening “Narcissus,” the scrap metal percussion, shrill synth textures, and distorted vocals belying an inherently entrancing melodicism, or on the slithery grooves of martial drums and ambient pads on “Hard Crash Necropolis,” the repetitions of “Nothing remains” adding to an atmosphere befitting a dystopian cyberpunk anthem. “Corvomancers” is quite surprising as trashy drums and throbbing electronics shuffle beneath coldly treated vocals, its pianos and synths in the later section adding a nice diversion that really deserves further remix extrapolation, while the breadth of Archer’s vocal tone is more discernible in the subtle harmonization of “Generation Loss,” somehow evoking some of the project’s earlier efforts. The sneering and satirical “Fair and Balanced” also stands out for its slightly reserved tone, the repetitions of “Put your hands up” coming across more urgent and desperate, as if pleading for protest rather than celebration or even apprehension, leaving the droning gyrations of noise and tightly programmed beats of the title track to dissipate into an expansive piano outro. The record dubiously conclude with a cover of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Book of Days,” which although a faithful rendition, fits remarkably well with Stoneburner’s sound, the vocals once again revealing a richness and depth all too often obscured by excessive effects. The Great Filter is perhaps more accessible compared to some of Stoneburner’s noisier offerings, but this is hardly a detriment given the scope of its themes and the sophistication of Steven Archer’s composition and production, where even the simplest and most monotonic track feels like a grand epic. If humanity is to endure an explosive event, it might as well arrive in the form of a record like this.