SKULL524

PSYCROPTIC, Initiation  (2010, Stomp)

The skull:
At first glance I was struck with a thought that I don’t believe has ever coursed through my gray matter before: “This snake is wearing cockrings!” But no, a closer look reveals that what I saw was simply a ringed door-knocker. Darn. The rest of the image is something we see often around here: a snake encircling a skull. This snake — unlike many other snake-centric entries in the Skullection — is not penetrating the eye and/or nose sockets of the bony noggin, but I’ll bet anything we’re just a few slithers away from a serious reptilian skull-fucking.

The music:
This was released as a CD/DVD, but the BDS bylaws drawn up by the Council in 1874 (or 2009, or something) state that a Friar need not review the DVD portion of a CD/DVD release. So, we have here a live album by Psycroptic, and not being one to get excited about live albums, this holds little appeal. I suppose most will feel the same, unless they are, of course, massive fans of Psycroptic. And those fans are out there, because these Aussies have been plying their brand of technical death metal since the early 2000s and have found a large following. This puts them not only well ahead of the current pack, but proves them to be spearheads in a death metal sub-genre that has become quite the unstoppable phenomena this last decade and a half. So, how is this live Psycroptic album? It’s a live Psycroptic album. The tunes vary not at all from their studio counterparts, save for a few subtle nuances. The performances are, of course, completely tight and ultra-finessed. But it feels redundant, and you wouldn’t be missing anything the studio albums don’t deliver, unless you love Jason Peppiatt’s stage banter. And why would you? It’s kinda funny when he asks the crowd, “Are you having fun out there?” While there is a degree of entertainment or fun with all of this, I’m not sure that’s ever what a death metal bands hopes to communicate. Fun? Really? I don’t know about you, but I want death metal to be thrilling, and dark, and otherworldly, and escapist, and heavy as fuck, but fun? Speaking of the vocalist, his delivery is generic, but that goes for so many bands of this type. You just have to accept that the John Tardys, David Vincents and LG Petrovs — ie. death metal vocalists with their own recognizable personalities — are a dying breed these days. So, hey, go for it if you’re a Psycroptic completist. Good luck to the band too, they’re quite excellent at what they do, but they don’t have that weirdness factor I want to hear in my tech-death. I’ll stick with Gigan…or early Atrocity.
— Friar Wagner

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