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PSYCROPTIC ADD ANOTHER NOTCH TO A BANNER YEAR IN TECHNICAL DEATH METAL

Rating
90

PSYCROPTIC ADD ANOTHER NOTCH TO A BANNER YEAR IN TECHNICAL DEATH METALWith ridiculously strong new albums by Arsis, Origin, Neuraxis, and others, 2008 is shaping up to be an exceptional year for technical death metal, if not THE exceptional year. And the new album by Tasmania’s (!) Psycroptic proves that the year isn’t over yet, but instead is still open to a few more focused and coherent yet tense and chaotic onslaughts, which Ob(Servant) most certainly is. Though they lack the penchant for melody of Arsis, the almost hilariously over-the-top musicianship of Origin, or the post-Decapitated barebones chugfest that is Neuraxis, the band manage to shine in the long shadows of their peers. This is not to say that the band aren’t great for many of the same reasons as their brethren (attention to musicality as well as technicality, great production, absurd speed, etc.), but it’s also not to imply that Psycroptic are the start of a derivative second wave of New Millennium Technical Death Metal. They’re a band brimming with personality, with part of that personality prone to tearing your fucking face off.

Borrowing from equal parts Necrophagist (speed, technicality, great fucking riffs), Nile (droning ambience, great fucking riffs, speed, technicality), and Decapitated (great fucking riffs, speed… you get the idea), Psycroptic still manage to come off sounding more like themselves than anything. This is not to say their hodgepodge of influences don’t homogenize in an intriguing way: the record’s dalliances into ambience, jazz-prog noodling or descent into grooves provide ample breathing room and appreciation for the Uzi-caliber riffs that rain down over most of the album. Most bands in this genre fail in either spending too much time shredding faces or too much time forcing diversity; Pscyroptic balance the two perfectly. The band aren’t afraid to spend the majority of a song at an ominous trudge, but also aren’t wary of playing as fast as human limitations can allow. Of course, none of this would mean anything if the record weren’t so damn listenable: the band also isn’t afraid of tonality, but don’t drag it from the robbed crypt of Swedish death metal that metalcore bands have been plundering since the late 90s. Everything is masterfully crafted, but not without a crushing weight behind it, like a bolder halfway through rolling down a mountain.

Call it a heartwarming dedication to the music Decapitated’s Vitek sadly gave his life for or a reaction to deathcore’s already growing predictability: 2008 has been a year peppered with brilliant death metal albums dedicated to furthering extremity through extremely talented players. And Psycroptic further toe the limits of what heavy can be, staying a rung below incomprehensible shredding but a rung above atonal grind to occupy a sweetly savage middle ground. Though the genre will no doubt grow stale as a generation of lanky kids in Hot Topic-bought Death shirts spend 14 hours a day practicing guitar but not grasping the importance of riffs or variance, right now if a beefy time in the genre’s history, and Psycroptic stand shoulder to shoulder with the other mainstays and originators. Ob(Servant) is a solid record in a genre where things can easily devolve into punishment for those who listen. For that alone, they deserve your time.

metal hornsmetal hornsmetal hornsPSYCROPTIC ADD ANOTHER NOTCH TO A BANNER YEAR IN TECHNICAL DEATH METAL

(4 out of 5 horns)
-SO

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