I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but I was not expecting this. I knew The Psyke Project were considered a hardcore band, and I knew they were from the general vicinity of Scandinavia, so a part of me expected some kind of d-beat Skitsystem-styled awesomeness, whilst another part of me expected something along the lines of Refused. I got neither. What I got was heavy-as-hell Coalesce-meets-Neurosis sludge-hardcore, with some truly throat-ripping vocals and a general feeling of slogging through pits of tar, assuming you’re one to do such a thing. (There’s a video on the band’s Myspace wherein the band members are struggling in slow motion to climb a steep hill, and given the pacing and the generally oppressive and anguished nature of the music, it’s an apt visualization—and admittedly a more realistic one than my tar-pit analogy.)
I’ve gotten burned out a bit on the ol’ post-metal scene, even with the occasional bright spot still coming through. (I kinda like the new Isis record, even as that band hasn’t moved me much in a long while.) It’s just that the explosion of similar post-leaning acts in the last few years has left me rarely willing or needing to explore that particular sub-genre too much further. But the Psyke Project is more than just strictly post-metal, and their stylistic blend is one I find interesting and invigorating. The band’s roots in hardcore give the music more immediacy, a more direct energy. These tunes are more compact, more streamlined than the average Neur–Isis opus, sacrificing much of the stylistic droning in favor of crushing hardcore grooves and some massive riffing. There’s enough of a math-metal influence to keep things slightly off-kilter, but not enough to make this a mess of noodly guitarwork or ever shifting tempo-changes. The Converge-like noisy discordance crashes head-on into the Neurosis chiming guitars and earth-rumbling heaviness, and each pushes the other forward in a lumbering stomp. And these riffs, these riffs… They’re mostly simple but sometimes complex; sometimes beautiful and sometimes destructive; sometimes punk and yet mostly metal… And they’re always solid, powerful, epic, and worthy of the banging of the heads…
The production is crisp and clear; the guitars and drums are suitably monstrous when they’re needed to be, sliding back to ethereal when they’re not; the bass is audible, even focal in a few points, and its tone is perfect—one of the better bass tones I’ve heard recently. Vocalist Martin Nielskov sticks mostly to a raspy snarl or a full-throated scream. It’s the combination of those epic riffs and Neilskov’s palpable frustration, anguish, and rage that make this Storm anything but dead.
Dead Storm is the Psyke Project’s fourth record—their first for Lifeforce—and I’m unclear how it happened that I’ve never once heard of these guys until now. Regardless, I’m glad I finally stumbled across this band. Dead Storm has already seen constant repetition in my household, a trend that will definitely continue.