Prosthetic Records, 2015
by Jimbo Hellguera
Australian technical death metal monsters, Psycroptic, have returned with their eponymously-titled sixth album, which also happens to be their first album for Prosthetic Records. What is, perhaps, clearer than ever is the fact Death Metal is too limiting of a term for the music Psycroptic creates, even if their roots are still firmly planted in the fetid soil of that genre.
Thrash, Prog, and even the more melodic elements of Hardcore all add to the layers of musical complexity in this release, particularly in the vocals which seem significantly removed from simple growls.
The opening track “Echoes to Come,” teases, briefly hints of ethnic-sounding melody before sinking some riff-tastic hooks into the listener and pummeling them with potent double-bass. And just when you start to feel yourself getting comfortable, the song twists with exotic but tasty leads, harmonies and time-changes.
The chanting-meets-shouting chorus, not unlike something to be found on a Nile song, certainly works here. Is this song still pit-worthy? Absolutely. And by the end of the song, the breakdown truly invites some wicked moshing.
Delving deeper into this album makes it immediately clear is that the production is crisp and surprisingly warm while still feeling crushingly metallic, and able to present the range of instrumental dynamics essential to Psycroptic’s sound.
There is a risk to an almost-tinny sound for tech-death, when the essence of brutality is lost in the technical expressions, but nothing here sounds less than ringing iron, occasionally molten.
It is difficult to talk about Psycroptic without mentioning David Haley’s stellar drumming. He possesses both the mega-speed and technical chops to match most any of the elite death metal drummers, but shows the sort of restraint and tasteful choices in his instrument that are the hallmark of a mature musician. This results in patterns, blasts, and accents that do not overpower the compositions, even though they stand out in nearly every song; even amidst guitar and bass work which is all equally notable in terms of skill and execution.
Midway through the album, “Setting the Skies Ablaze,” is a particularly impressive display of musicianship and songwriting, and marks a significant high point — not just in the album, but for Psycroptic’s music.
This is, ultimately, an album that will stand up to repeated listens and manage to reveal new layers of musical depth with each spin. Yet, it engages almost immediately, further establishing that Haley and company have really mastered the balance between technical wizardry and mature songwriting. Psycroptic, who were among those to really advance the genre of technical Death Metal, have effectively transcended it and may need to invent a new label to match the diversity of their music.