The last time I checked in with Kids These Days—and by that I mean, budding, young metalheads on the more well-traveled parts of the metal blogosphere—they were really into technical metal. That was a while ago, but it seemed like every other band MetalSucks was going on about was a technical death metal band. I went through a brief phase of this obsession myself in my late 20’s,* but then quickly got fed up with the seemingly endless throng of sound-alikes who could play their instruments like geniuses but weren’t fit to lick Cronos’s figurative songwriting boots. And the sterility of the prevailing sound was too much even for MRSA to thrive.
But there have been a few bright spots in the genre, the tetrad of Tasmanian technicians Psycroptic being one of them. Their sound is raw, genuine. And they write actual songs.** They’ve continued that proud tradition on their self-titled album.
It begins with clean, melodic sounds. The feint will of course fool no one. They then go into wonderful, harsh tech-death for the remainder of the album. Sure, they jackhammer away at times, and they place unnecessary (but invigorating) flourishes everywhere, but behind that shock and awe campaign is true songwriting. It will be more obvious on the mid-paced chorus of “Ending,” or the more melodic parts of “Echoes to Come” and “Sentence of Immortality” (which bear some small resemblance to Gojira). Nonetheless, even where it isn’t obvious, it’s still there. A personal favorite is the simple, high-pitched stabbing lead melody on “Endless Wandering,” but you’ll find other nuggets worth investigating.
To me, now, the only detraction from my enjoyment of this band is the hardcore shout-like vocals. To my geezer ears, a brutal riff sounds sweet as honey, but hardcore shouts are beginning to be a little obnoxious. Still, they’re not too much to take away from another excellent release by Psycroptic.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
*I even gave a Neuraxis album a perfect score, I think. Not something I’m likely to repeat now, in my dotage.
**How many music writers need to stress “actual songs” quite like metal writers do?