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Psycroptic – Divine Council Award winner

Divine Council
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 06 August 2022, 12:25 PM

PSYCROPTIC is a technical death metal band from Australia, who formed in 1999.  They have been rather prolific with “Divine Council” being their eighth full length album.  They have also released one live album, a boxed set, and an EP. I got into this band way back in 2006 with the “Symbols of Failure” album.  Do the sheer amount of bands I listen to, they kind of fell on the back burner and I never checked out any of their other albums after  the excellent “Ob(servant)” album 2018’s “As The Kingdom Drowns.”  That was a solid effort for sure but it didn’t grab me like I was hoping. However, “Divine Council” is a different story altogether—this album fucking slays.

I’m not the biggest fan of tech death—I need groove, brutality and some kind of structure in my death metal.  All the noodling and widdly wham bullshit gets old and makes bands that do it sound like an absolute mess of an orgy of people doing a full body dry heave.  But the reasons why I dislike a lot of tech death (especially in the modern scene) is why PSYCROPTIC has always appealed to me: they don’t do any of those things.  They are technical as hell with each member shredding their asses off but they have actual song writing skills and care about the song.

Divine Council” really takes this to heart, thankfully.  Despite the braze and bold musicianship presented on the album, each song is laden with groove and/or catchy hooks.  Seriously, and it probably goes without saying, but Joe Haley is the album’s MVP.  For nine tracks and and nearly forty minutes, this dude just belts out riff after riff after riff.  There are a lot of riff machines within the metal scene but Joe is without a doubt among the best of them. New-ish bassist Todd Stern continues to uphold the band’s high standards in their rhythm section, set by the indispensable David Haley.  Together the two of them provide an unbreakable foundation—they are holding up a lot but they also give a lot too.  Technical precision is the name of their game but, much like Joe, they present it in an interesting and catchy way.

And what about Jason Peppiatt?  I feel this dude is underrated.  I remember around the time I got into them that a lot of “fans” hated on him because he wasn’t Chalk.  Well guess what?  He blew Chalk out of the water then and he continues to do so.  Bam.  Jason is a very capable vocalist who improves with each release while matching the energy and fervor of the band. The album opens with “Rend Asunder,” which is an immediate assault on the senses.  A flurry of drums kicks it all off, giving an opening for tight, hammering guitar and bass to earthquake its way to the Jason’s own intimidating prowess.  The later half of the song splices in head banging grooves into their brand of technicality.

Not only is this song a great opener, it also establishes the fact of the band has a renewed sense of energy.  They have been around for 23 years I believe…and they don’t sound like some tired old band that is just skating by.  They sound focused and renewed—these songs definitely have a hunger to them that cannot be ignored. “This Shadowed World,” is a burner!  The frantic riffs and rhythm swirl into the mix with Jason’s vocal attack for an immense track that is a wall of sound yet each instrument, note, and second of music an be heard clearly.  Production this shiny doesn’t work for every band but PSYCROPTIC feed off it and still retain plenty of power and brutality. I love the mid section of this song, which is slower and more melodic than what came before.  The musical backdrop is perfect for the vocals—the song doesn’t even take a misstep, everything is just so smooth with its flow.

The change of pace with “The Prophets Council,” keeps the album fresh.  The clean instrumentation and piano laden beginning its just the right spot at the right time.  The song continues to build up, more technical notes wrapped up in a grooved approach—it works and keeps the song interesting and also frantic. The riffs on “A Fragile Existence,” are out of this world as is the song’s atmosphere.  I think this one of my favorites of the album and one that represents it very well.  It is catchy as hell too and gave me the desire to slam my body into the wall. The last thirty seconds are rifftastic and as mighty as a bomb dropping from the sky.

Exitus,” is the last track and a fine send off for this wonderful ride.  The riffs get into the brain quickly, burrowing their way in and bursting out.  The galloping riffs rip up the song in various places, a great way to the listener on their toes (ears) but the atmospheric touches of the last minute or so are the highlight as the song fades to black. PSYCROPTIC rips it up big time with “Divine Council” with amazing song writing skills, which display their playing abilities and their desire to put the song first.  This album is a grand experience, don’t let it pass you by.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Rend Asunder
2. A Fool’s Errand
3. This Shadowed World
4. Enslavement
5. Ashes Of Our Empire
6. The Prophet’s Council
7. Awakening
8. A Fragile Existence
9. Exitus
David Haley – Drums
Joe Haley – Guitars
Jason Peppiatt – Vocals
Todd Stern – Bass
Record Label: EVP Recordings


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