Review: Psycroptic: As the Kingdom Drowns
Death Metal From Down Under
For as much as I’ve come to enjoy tech death, I still find much of the genre to be blasé with too many bands simply regurgitating the over the top guitar wankery of the bands that came before them. Of course, there are plenty of bands that have broken the tech death mold and have forged their own unique sound over time. Perhaps the band that has done this the best is Psycroptic from Tasmania. Since their formation in 1999 the band has continual impressed me with the freshness of their sound, particularly the groove focus of their sound and the gruff sound of Jason Peppiatt’s vocals, who joined the band in 2005.
For those familiar with Psycroptic’s sound, this album delivers some of the catchiest riffs in technical death metal. Compared to the band’s previous releases, this album is much more of a straight-forward tech death record, somewhat reminiscent of Revocation‘s new album The Outer Ones with its approach. In spite of it being nearly straight forward tech death, Psycroptic’s groove tendencies still stand out on tracks like “Directive”. Listeners might even notice subtle, unintentional nods to early Gojira sprinkled throughout the album.
It’s hard to place this album within the band’s discography. While it’s not a forgettable album, it doesn’t quite stick out like their last two albums. It’s also hard to determine if this album is setting the band’s future trajectory musically. The musicianship is flawless, the riffs and solos on this album are attention grabbing without crossing into over-the-top showboating and Jason Peppiatt’s is at the top of his game vocally. Still the album sounds devoid of the character of previous releases.
As it stands, this album characterizes some of my reluctance to embrace technical death metal. Aside from the amazing riffs and musicianship, after a few tracks these albums start to drown in their own monotony. While this wasn’t the album I expected from Psycroptic, it still delivers solid tracks like “Frozen Gaze” and the amazing title track “As the Kingdom Drowns”. In fact this album can be viewed as a great jumping off point for tech death fans new to Psycroptic.
While I cannot help but feel let down by this release, my fondness for Psycroptic still remains. Yes, I will still come back to select songs on this album, but I don’t feel like this is an album I would listen to from start to finish. If anything, Psycroptic proves to me that tech death should be more than mind boggling guitar riffs. As a result I give this album 3.5 out of 5 flaming toilets ov hell.
As the Kingdoms Drowns is out now through Prosthetic Records.