Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns

Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor/Label: Prosthetic records
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://store.prostheticrecords.com/search?q=As+The+Kingdom+Drowns
Band Website: https://en-gb.facebook.com/psycroptic/

Band lineup:

Dave Haley – drums
Joe Haley – guitar
Jason Peppiatt – vocals
Todd Stern – bass guitar

 Tracklisting:

1. We were The Keepers
2. Frozen Gaze
3. Directive
4. Deadlands
5. As The Kingdom Drowns
6. Beyond The black
7. Upon These Stones
8. Monumentum Of The Void
9. You Belong here Below

Review:

It is not often that I get passed an album to review that I am eagerly expecting. My experience so far had mainly been getting some rather obscure albums from all across the world. Brutal death from Columbia, Peruvian thrash, even some operatic black metal from Italy to mention just a few. I seen this as a challenge, digging myself into some fine rabbit holes but, when I seen the album cover appear in my brief, I almost creamed my pants. Thus was the excitement levels knowing that in my grasp was such a juicy prospect.

I am the proud owner of several Psycroptic albums after all and have managed to see them live before, so I had intimate knowledge of the band and some pit experience to boot. The band have been kicking about for almost 20 years, having been started by the Haley brothers in West Hobart Tasmania in 1999. Their last and self-titled album before ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ changed the game a bit for the band as they explored new realms of style whilst maintaining some titanic riffs and groove. Ever since ‘Ob(Servant)’ Jason Peppiatt’s vocal style has adapted as he moved away from the brutaller gutterals in favour of a harsh and powerful rasp. A fair bit more distinguishable than the early days of Matthew Chalk. Certainly it goes with the sharper tone of Joe Haley’s ever more fantastical riff style.

So now we are at the 7th album stage, a slippery slope for most and one where many bands have taken a dire left turn to their style. So have Psycroptic fell for the pull towards stagnation? Not even hardly. ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ is another fine example of the genius and ability that this band possesses. It’s not all perfect by any means but there is everything that you could want in a Psycroptic album plus much more. They’ve brought in more atmospheric components and even some female backing vocals in tracks like the opener ‘We Were The Keepers’, the title track of the album and ‘Beyond The Black’. There is a notable stylistic difference in the atmosphere of songs like these and even ‘Upon These Stones’, taking influence from ‘Cold’ from their last album in terms of tempo and the structure of the music.

I wouldn’t say it’s a left turn as this stylistic evolution has been in motion since, well, the dawn of the band’s existence but has become more prominent since ‘The Inherited Repression’. There are still so many intense death metal elements throughout all the album although you could say that this album is far removed from ‘Isle Of Disenchantment’. Joe Haley hasn’t toned down the ridiculous riffs and lead work. As an example, ‘Directive’ has these awe consuming breaks of just phenomenal guitar parts that really takes the song to a new level, like so many aspects throughout the album. The harmonising bass lines on the title track, the strong choruses, the technical groove in the drumming; there’s a lot going on. This does stray from the norm but it really does work in the context of the song and how the vocals are used. What doesn’t stray from the norm is the insane riffery and the mind blowing technique overall that the band exhibits in droves.

‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ is one heavy way to bring almost 20 years of hard hitting technical death metal to a resounding success. Hard to say if the band have peaked yet, even seven albums in. Some (maybe most purists) would say they peaked at ‘Sceptre Of The Ancients’ but I’m not convinced and see plenty more potential for these Tasmanian mad men to keep pushing forward with their insane abilities. Another seismic effort and one which fits nicely into the band’s steady evolution. Don’t miss out and get yourself a copy, this one comes with no regrets.
Review By Pete Mutant
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