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Album Reviews : Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns

By on October 17, 2018

Australian tech-death wizards Psycroptic are back again with album number seven As the Kingdom Drowns. Aside from a handful of tracks by the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Obscura, technical death metal has never really been my thing, but first impressions of this new album leave little room for doubt: Psycroptic has again delivered an excellent album that is tight, brutally heavy, and still melodic. Technical shredding is balanced with strong and engaging songwriting that never feels too flashy while the production is clear without sounding sterile or compromising on heaviness and distortion. The addition of some light symphonic effects and female vocals to some tracks adds depth to their sound and the atmosphere evoked on the album without weakening the core sound that defines Psycroptic.

Right out of the gate ‘We Were the Keepers’ showcases a nice twisted riff that builds from strength to strength into a mammoth chorus that is bolstered by the aforementioned symphonic/choral effects and the female vocals. Great songwriting is on show with rhythmic themes carried throughout the song and gradually developed, elaborating on themes and counterthemes across the band. ‘Frozen Gaze’ and ‘Directive’ continue in this style, with excellent riffing bolstered by understated synths and some excellent and catchy choruses. After repeated listens, I was surprised at how memorable the riffs on this album are, a rarity in tech-death for me, speaking to the quality of the material on show here. The musicianship is likewise excellent, with an especially good drum performance delivered by Dave Haley, but that’s nothing new for those familiar with Psycroptic.

‘Deadlands’ changes gear somewhat, with a thrashy opening main riff and a similar, punk-infused feel to the chorus. Aggressive and heavy, this song strikes me as one that will work well live, perhaps a future fan favourite alongside classic tracks like ‘The Colour of Sleep’. ‘As the Kingdom drowns’ opens with a nice groove between the slow riff and the drums, tied together with a stellar vocal performance by Jason Peppiatt. The production shines on this track and the following one ‘Beyond the Black’. The guitars are foregrounded and not compromised, providing a contrast to similar bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse where the metal band can sometimes become lost amongst a sea of orchestral flourishes. While Psycroptic isn’t aiming at being a symphonic metal band, their approach to production and the usage of choral effects and female vocals demonstrates a clear understanding of their personal style and the expectations of their fans.

‘Upon these Stones’ changes gears again with a moody atmospheric opening. There are countless layers and different musical ideas intertwining here, again rewarding multiple listens from the discerning fan. A heavy chorus rounds out the song, harkening back to more classic Psycroptic sounds if the melodic choruses and pseudo-symphonic effects aren’t really your thing. ‘Momentum of the Void’ shows another solid groovy riff and has a very cohesive vibe while closing track ‘You Belong Here, Below’ rounds the album out with a great heavy outro featuring gang vocals and strong riffs.

Overall, Psycroptic shows no signs of slowing down. With well-written songs and an accessible production style, As the Kingdom Drowns will reward both stalwart fans and newcomers who might not be familiar with the band and their previous work. Absolutely worth checking out for any fans of technical death metal, or just heavy music in general.

Band: Psycroptic
Album: As The Kingdom Drowns
Year: 2018
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Label: Prosthetic Records
Origin: Australia
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About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.