Hailing from Hobart in Tasmania, Psycroptic have already cemented themselves as one of the leading acts in Australian Death Metal. Having been around since 1999 (I’m only a year older than the band, to put it into perspective), Psycroptic have done it all: they’ve toured the world, they’ve brought down international Death Metal acts to Australia, they’ve put out some of the most interesting and innovative albums in Death Metal history, and it’s made me wonder what they could possibly do to up their game even more. Then I got my hands on ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’.
I’ve never doubted the technical prowess and songwriting abilities of Psycroptic, I am definitely well aware that guitarist Joe Haley and drummer Dave Haley are some of the most talented musicians, not just in Death Metal, but in the entire music industry. Their uncanny precision, as well as the chemistry between the brothers has always been a main reason to their success: if you’ve ever seen the band live, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ has provided an elevation in their songwriting history, their attention to detail, and has managed to grasp the chemistry of all the members in such a way that is almost impossible to find in today’s music.
Beginning the album with We Were the Keepers, Psycroptic set the atmosphere for the rest of the album as relentless, unforgiving and dark, blasting their way through some of the most intense introductions I’ve ever heard with nothing but pure intensity and technical precision that will blow the mind of literally anyone that listens to it. The band maintain that gloomy, evil aura through to the next track, Frozen Gaze, with Dave Haley presenting an breathtaking mix of blast beats, double kick assault and old school Death Metal ride sections.
Whilst all the tracks on ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ is filled with some of the most phenomenal musical pieces in Death Metal as we see it today, Upon These Stones stands out as an eerie, demented work of art that could very easily hold its own as a staple in Psycroptic’s long and fruitful history. Not only does guitarist Joe Haley focus on his spectacular riffing abilities, but the band delve into an atmospheric side that’s rare to find in Psycroptic’s discography, delivering an unprecedented amount of emotion, heaviness and technical prowess.
Amongst the influx of riffs however, the one song that delivers the true ‘Psycroptic’ sound whilst leaving me in absolute shock is Monumentum of the Void. This is the track that truly allows each member to shine in their own respect, with Joe Haley delivering some of the most complex riffs that genuinely left me contemplating whether or not I should pick up a guitar again, bassist Todd Stern following along with Haley, whilst at the same time developing his own atmosphere and depth, and drummer Dave Haley holding down incredibly intricate rhythms that complement both the bass and the guitar in a way that allows him to stand out in his own right. Not just this song in particular, but vocalist Jason Peppiatt delivers such a fruitful, energetic and brutal performance throughout the album, it’s an absolute wonder how someone who has been performing Death Metal for such a long period of time can maintain such intensity and pure force, and only getting better with time.
Another thing I love about ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’, and Psycroptic as a whole is that the band make sure to utilize every member effectively and develop more than just three instruments and a vocalist performing. Stern’s performance throughout the whole album Is more than just noticeable, he’s an incredible bass player that creates his own layer and develops on the riffs that Joe Haley writes, and rather than just following along with the root note, he adds depth to the riffs that Joe writes and creates an interesting dynamic that has helped cement Psycroptic as one of the most unforigiving, violent and riff heavy acts in Death Metal history.
To say that Psycroptic’s upcoming record is absolutely flawless, would be one of the biggest understatements of the century; ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ fulfills the ‘Psycroptic’ sound, whilst introducing a new brand of Death Metal. Do yourself an absolute favour and pre-order this album here immediately, because not only is this Psycroptic’s best release to date, it’s one of the best releases in Death Metal.