Psycroptic is one of those bands that sounds perfect on paper for me. I know I’ve been hearing about them for years, but I can’t remember if I actually ever listened to anything before now. Needless to say, I was excited when I saw a new release by them. It gave me the perfect excuse to dive in.
Let’s start with the technique. It is darn impressive. You can tell these guys have been playing a long time and have the ability to incorporate flashes of skill without relying on it for the sole content of a song. They also showcase their skill in cleanly switching between time signatures and tempo.
I’ve heard some interesting death metal time signatures over the years. On the experimental side some bands make it hard to tell what is happening at all or extensively use the “mixed” meter (5/8, 7/8, etc) for effect. Track 2 on Psycroptic uses a very clear and extended 6/8 section, which might be a first for me.
It is slow enough that it has a waltz feel (ONE two three ONE two three). I’ll say it is an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it really works for me. I know they probably didn’t intend for it to sound waltz-like, but I can’t help but hear it. The “demented” waltz has its place in music history with many composers trying their hand at it like Shostakovich, so why not death metal?
The first three tracks taken together start to lose my interest. Something about the general sound of the album is too uniform. It is basically a wall of sound with all the same tone (except maybe the chorus section of the first track).
This is my biggest criticism of the album. Any individual track is a really good listen, but it all feels so ordinary. We get a little bit of different tone in track 4, but I have to listen to the album as I write this to be reminded what any of the songs sound like (I’ve put in about 10 listens).
They often settle into extended grooves where not much happens. If you think about it, you can say, oh, that arpeggiation is impressive, but you could easily zone out and miss it.
It is sort of hard to say what it is I didn’t like other than I just never got into the album. It might be that the individual pieces were excellent, but they never came together to make interesting whole songs.
I think the best track on the album is the seventh, “Sentence of Immortality,” but it somehow says something that this song doesn’t sound anything like the rest of the album.
I can say one positive thing. This album clocks in at about 38 minutes. The band knew what they wanted to do and did it. There was none of this make an album out of a few good songs and then pad it out to an hour with filler that seems rampant these days. If your album is less than 40 minutes, then it’s less than 40 minutes. That’s okay. I applaud them for not dragging it out.
Overall, the album has tight, technical playing with good ideas, but I never felt compelled to listen more. I wanted to love it but couldn’t. I’ll give it a 6.5/10.
Here’s a sample: