I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: Psycroptic is one of the best metal bands Australia has ever produced.
Amazingly consistent live, each album release has also seen a development in their technical and musical abilities, constantly challenging themselves to new peaks of creativity.
As the Kingdom Drowns opens with machine-gun riffing, a procession of spider chords, wall-to-wall drumming and Jason Peppiatt’s blast furnace howling. It’s trademark Psycroptic right into the chorus when things take an epic turn, opening up with layered vocals that adds a dark feel which come to characterise this release.
For it is with As the Kingdom Drowns that the Tasmanians explore a darker, more malevolent nature. They’ve always been brutal, but here they are sinister too, dialling back on the speed and wild technicality in places to accentuate the mood. Check the dark menace that haunts the background of the title track, and infiltrates the creeping “Upon These Stones”, a definite album highlight where the band goes for a slow reveal, Dave Haley’s drums booming out across an atmosphere of darkness built on sludgy, jagged riffing.
“Deadlands” is another of this album’s clear highlights, steered by a choppy thrash-inspired hook at a slightly more leisurely pace and featuring Joe Haley branching out with an extended solo. It’s an indulgence he rarely trifles in but here it drops perfectly into place in a track that is more focused on the band’s metal side than its technical one.
Therein lies the essence of this album. Psycroptic have always been able to dazzle with technicality and intricacy, complex arrangements and barnstorming brutality. Now they are out to prove that they are both also adept at other elements of the death metal playbook and can work them seamlessly into their well-developed style. They’ve entertained groove before, but As the Kingdom Drowns takes their experimenting even further, adding epic structures and malevolence, and slower-paced, more traditional death metal songs that only increase the scope of their appeal and their creativity.
Twenty years on, and Psycroptic are still mining a healthy wellspring of inspiration and ideas, a band showing every sign they are still climbing toward their creative pinnacle. This album is a behemoth.
- We Were the Keepers
- Frozen Gaze
- As the Kingdom Drowns
- Beyond the Black
- Upon These Stones
- Momentum of the Void
- You Belong Here, Below