Sarcophilus harrisii (The Tasmanian Devil) are facing extinction. A contagious facial tumour disease has virtually wiped the population from the state; the only hope being an interstate breeding program that will eventually re-populate the devil once the disease has runs its course. Psycroptic are proud Tasmanians and like the devil, they are extremely loud, ferocious, pack an enormous bite and deliver an ear wrecking screech. The band have even adopted their own devil (named Psycro) and have donated all the proceeds of leading single ‘Echoes to Come’ to the cause.
Psycroptic’s sixth full length release has continued the progression seen on the last two albums 2008’s ‘Ob(Servant)’ and 2012’s ‘The Inherited Repression’. This progression sees the 4 piece focus more on song structure and groove than the break neck velocity and brutal guttural approach on albums such as ‘The Scepter of the Ancients’ and ‘The Isle of Disenchantment’.
The trademark technicality, precision and skill is still present on this release, it has just been refined and scaled back so that it is not at the forefront of the design. The opening thrash explosion on ‘Setting the Skies Ablaze’ is some of the fastest and frantic playing of their career, while the face melting fret destruction on ‘Ending’ proves that Psycroptic have lost none of their artistry and finesse.
A deliberate shift towards groove oriented structures has allowed the band space to experiment with dynamics, and the acoustic touches of opener ‘Echoes to Come’ and ‘Cold’ show they are comfortable infiltrating the arrangements with softer elements. The gradual shift away from a brutal death sound definitely suits vocalist Jason Peppiatt’s skill set, as his vocals bare more to a Phil Anselmo than a George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher, and its befitting. ‘Sentence of Immortality’ even sees Peppiatt rival Gojira’s Duplantier, with the band following suit.
The band have evolved, matured, and tightened every aspect of their sound. Its less raw than some of the earlier albums, but now signed with Prosthetic Records, they rightly need to invest more in the sound quality and overall aesthetic of the album. This shows, as the production is flawless with each instrument placed perfectly in the mix.
Psycroptic does not let loose on this release, there are no moments of utter chaos, and some of the old school technical death metal followers of this band may feel let down by this. There is also a feeling that these songs have been played so many times, which is of course necessary due to the technicality of the guitars, however, the passion and emotion that would have been prevalent in the early demos is absent, and it feels cold at times.
Psycroptic are masters of their craft, the hard yards that the band endured early in their careers has built a very solid fan base. Evolution will be the key in appealing to new listeners, and if they continue to release strong albums like this, then, like the Tasmanian Devil, they won’t be going anywhere soon.
1. Echoes to Come
3. A Soul Once Lost
5. Setting the Skies Ablaze
6. Ideals That Won’t Surrender
7. Sentence of Immortality
8. The World Discarded
9. Endless Wandering
To help save the Tasmanian Devil donate here: http://www.devilark.com.au