Siriun – Psychonaut Review

Do you suppose anyone has ever looked at themselves in the mirror on their 100th birthday and thought, “Well, it’s been a good, long life, but I sure wish I had spent more time being a dick about musical subgenres”?

Hello, friend, I hope you are well today. Can I tell you that although, yes, heavy metal can be very serious business, I am mostly here because it makes me feel several different kinds of good? If we can agree on these important preliminaries, then I propose that Brazil’s Siriun, who have recently sent their second album Psychonaut out into the world to see how it can do for itself, seem to also feel several different kinds of good about heavy metal. And, because I would never betray your sacred trust, reader, and leave an opening thought unconnected, I feel particularly good about Psychonaut because it sounds like the product of a band mostly unconcerned with genre.

Here’s what that looks like if you cut off the fat: Psychonaut is an extreme metal album, and that’s about all you really might need to say. It is heavy, it is mostly very fast, and each of the players makes lots of loud and angry sounds. There is a bounty of tasty guitar leads and tastefully squiggly solos. While you listen, your brain might start tracing album covers from Strapping Young Lad, Lamb of God, The Haunted, or Gojira. If you needed to pin a sharper point on it, you could say that Siriun mostly operates from a starting point of death metal, but there are elements of thrash, groove, and light proggy touches often enough that it complicates the picture. This is why it’s best to listen to Psychonaut as an omnivorously heavy album that dabbles in whatever it needs to from moment to moment to keep up its own interest. 

On the pummeling bounce of “Another Reality,” the shadow of Siriun’s countrymen in Sepultura (particularly circa Chaos A.D./Roots) is inescapable. Some of Psychonaut’s best moves, though, come when Siriun plunges deliriously from breakneck death/thrash riffing into a huge, bodily groove (as on the wonderful “Final Hour”). Put another way, if you are allergic to involuntary slow-motion headbanging at your desk or in the grocery store or at the acupuncturist or wherever you happen to bring Siriun, talk to your doctor before Psychonauting.

Every player puts in a sharply honed performance, but Marcos Medeiros’s bass is often a bit of a secret weapon here – he’s rarely way out front in an obvious way, but as you sink into the aggressive sprawl of the album, you’ll often find a rubbery bass run sneak out from the chip-chop pitter-patter of the drums and guitars. The midsection of the title track (just before the acoustic guitar break) is a great example.

At more than 65 minutes, yes, Psychonaut is certainly too long. But guess what? If I made you sit down and give me your best ideas for a straight 65 minutes, buddy, you’d better believe I’d be taking a few snack breaks. It has been ten years since Siriun’s debut album and you could hardly blame the fellas for wanting to bring everything they’ve got. Though the album runs a bit long for frequent full sessions, there’s no real issue with quality control, and in fact, the band seems to even settle in and stretch out a bit more as the album goes on. “Primal” hits with the spastic fury of early Meshuggah, while the absolutely filthy groove of “Igneous” is so good you might want to start a grassroots campaign to get an image of it printed on Brazil’s currency.

You and I, friend, we are traveling companions on this journey. I do not know you as well as I would like, but I do believe you are unlikely to have deathbed regrets about not taking enough time out of your days and nights to split the hairs between black/death metal and death/black metal. But missing out on excellent sounds from a good band putting in the work? I’m not saying it’ll land your personal reel with the Ghost of Christmas Past, but heck, why not just give a good clean listen to Psychonaut today to be safe?

Posted by Dan Obstkrieg

Happily committed to the foolish pursuit of words about sounds. Not actually a dinosaur.

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