Psycroptic - _The Scepter of the Ancients_
(Unique Leader, 2003)
by: Brian Meloon (10 out of 10)
I was almost sure that Spawn of Possession's _Cabinet_ [CoC #67] would be my favorite disc of 2003, but Psycroptic's second release is perhaps even better. Australia's Psycroptic play fast, technical death metal featuring a constantly-changing barrage of riffs. They keep the tempo fast enough and the riffs changing frequently enough that it's hard to classify them as "brutal", though their music is certainly very aggressive. Their music is highly syncopative, but they add some melodic elements and even a few guitar leads to avoid sounding too one-dimensional. The riffs themselves, while generally above-average, aren't overly original, but it's their execution that is so impressive. In particular, two things really strike me about this release. The first is the agility of some of the riffs: they're able to switch tempos, feels, and/or time signatures on a dime, which is very difficult to do in the middle of a blast beat. The second is their tightness: several sections simply wouldn't have been as effective without the band being as tight as they are. Needless to say, the drums, guitars, and bass are all exceptionally well played. The vocals are also very impressive, as their vocalist has a lot of versatility. His main vocals are a mix of shouting, screaming, and growling, but he also incorporates a guttural style, a few Cradle of Filth-style screams, a slightly distorted style that reminds me of early-'90s Pantera, and several others. Most of these styles are very effective and fit the music very well.

If there's a problem with this release, it's that they often resort to simply average riffs, especially at the beginnings of songs. Their best songs don't really have an intro that reaches out and grabs you, and their best moments are often buried in the middle of songs. In addition, they sometimes follow up an excellent section that they've been building for a while with a distinctly average one, breaking the momentum that they had built. Nevertheless, they are usually able to recover this momentum within a few measures. The production is very good; it's clear enough that all of the instruments are clearly audible, and it fits the music well enough. I can't imagine a fan of technical death metal not liking this release. On the other hand, it probably won't appeal to those who like to groove to their music or demand catchy hooks or melodies. Since I'm firmly in the former camp, I'm eagerly awaiting their next release and hunting down their debut album, _The Isle of Disenchantment_ [CoC #53].


(article published 25/5/2004)

4/2/2012 A El Naby 7.5 Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
10/24/2008 J Smit 9 Psycroptic - Ob(Servant)
2/17/2006 A Marouchos 8 Psycroptic - Symbols of Failure
5/13/2001 A Bromley 8.5 Psycroptic - The Isle of Disenchantment
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