I imagine if you as far into your career as Death Metal veterans Psycroptic are right now, you reach a certain point where it’s either stick or twist. Their albums since the very start have always delivered the goods but it wasn’t until 2003’s Scepter Of The Ancients (Unique Leader) that it truly felt like the band had arrived, they then proceeded to tread water somewhat with albums that never even came close to Scepter…
But now in their own words they’re looking to produce something that much more darker and that will take them down unknown avenues and that something is new album As The Kingdom Drowns (Prosthetic)
Often you hear soundbites, like the one mentioned above, and immediately you just say “OK lads, put up or shut up” and you assume this will just be some more recycled, rehashed serviceable, not bad, old school Death Metal. But bugger me with a big stick! Psycroptic are on a fucking mission not only to reign down fury on the genre within which they reside but also make a play for a far bigger stage.
I’d heard ‘We Were The Keepers’ early on this year and I thought that at the very least this new album would be another solid Psycroptic album, and I was kind of ok with that. It’s just that the band had other ideas………like maybe a choir?! Stick that in your pipe and smoke on it. This lead off track sets their dastardly plan in motion and boasts some truly monstrous riffs and song writing that is has so much more direction and purpose. It feels like a new band has entered the fray.
They manage to keep up the dizzying array of technically beautiful riffs throughout the entire album and I just kept getting more and more blown away as each track came and went. The Haley brothers can use that old school knowledge and years upon years of playing to great effect on tracks like ‘Directive’, which really shows off that trademark Joe Haley guitar sound and the drumming from his brother Dave Hayley is simply inhuman at times. Their buzzsaw precision is something to behold and again it feels vibrant, fresh and altogether more focused.
The title track is a different beast altogether and is perfectly placed coming slap bang in the middle of this whole thing. A wrenching, churning, twisting beast of a song it envelops you in an atmosphere so epic and bleak that when that choir kicks in there was just a sense of awe, that’s best way I can describe it.
‘Beyond The Black’ is also worthy of note as the vocals of Jason Peppiat perfectly blend with the choir in a way which I didn’t expect. There is a flow and melding of styles that just fucking works. I guess it’s like how some death metal bands use symphonics to accentuate the music but the use of choir adds way more emotion and scale to the songs.
Psycroptic have created their opus, their audio mission statement from now until the time they hang up their boots. As The Kingdom Drowns is an album that will be revered by many for its scope and sheer metal-up-your-ass goodness. Who knew a band this far down the line had this in them, a truly great album that solidifies the Psycroptic legacy.