Psycroptic – The Scepter Of The Ancients Review

Originally written by Dan Staige.

Psycroptic is one of the tightest units I’ve ever heard. Their music isn’t exactly pure death metal; it’s not brutal death; it’s a little thrashy at times, but I wouldn’t call it that either. As hard as it is to pinpoint their style, it’s very easy to claim two things. Firstly, this is superb production – extremely meaty, thick, clear, and powerful. The first time I heard this was in my car, and the opening chords of “The Colour of Sleep” just swallowed me and made the whole car shake with their huge, strong sound. When the double kick entered the song, I just shook my head in disbelief at the volume and clarity of it all. Secondly, the musicianship of this band is as close to perfect as anything I’ve ever heard. With the style of music this band has established, the practice time as musicians must exceed the decade mark. Their songs have a very jumpy stop and start trademark to them. They can build a main riff, then use only a fragment of it the next time around, then comment on the fragment, then distort, deform, and lead it completely astray, bringing it back as a mere remnant of what it began as. Some of the palm muted notes ascend so smoothly and gracefully and are in PERFECT synchronicity with the kick drum. It reminds me of Decapitated at times, yet a lot more intricate and detailed. What I can’t seem to understand is how I keep getting lost in the middle of the album. Not lost as in not following the material, but lost as in losing the feeling that I had at the start of the disc. The songs retain top-notch musicianship, but they seem to lose definition from one another between “The Colour of Sleep” and “Psychrology”, which I find to be one of the best songs on here. “Cruelty Incarnate” has a genius hook opening it up, and super tight start and stops, as usual. There are distinct palm-muted descending riffs that are picked so fast . . . the shit makes your head spin. There are no weighty death metal breakdowns, really; it’s basically a giant spider web of technical proficiency and density, twisting, turning, and constructing itself as it proceeds. “The Valley of the Winds Breath” has a multiple layered non-typical-for-metal chorus, and being the closed-minded brutal fan that I am, I am hesitant to admit that I actually like it quite a bit. It’s unexpected and thoroughly backed with smooth guitar harmonies that are actually quite soothing. The closing track, “The Scepter of Jaar-Gilon”, sports the same quality as the opening track by immediately anchoring itself with a firm riff, then swarming the rest of the song around it, frequently returning you to the core, reminding you just where you’re at. As dumbfounded as the musicianship on this record leaves me, I still struggle to identify certain works within the riffing. There are some songs that are hands-down winners from beginning to end, and there’s some that just leave me struggling to grasp that certain feeling while listening to it, and I can never seem to accomplish it. Psycroptic brings a brand of metal that is all their own, with choppy riffing that has the accuracy of a laser light show, and vocals that range from an earlier Phil Anselmo type concentration of power to a swamp bullfrog guttural grunt. It’s all done in the utmost professional manner with ideal production that helps unleash their intentions instead of restrict them. This is something I think every metal fan should hear regardless of personal taste, because the material will amaze you at one point or another. But how far Psycroptic pulls you in has yet to be determined.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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