Review Summary: Roo Ridin’ Death Metal titans release their most consistent effort yet.
Psycroptic is widely considered one of the premier bands in the Technical Death Metal scene. In fact, their sophomore effort, The Scepter of the Ancients
, is hailed by many as a Death Metal essential. However let us start off on the right foot; Ob(Servant)
is not another Scepter
. By this I do not mean the album lacks in quality, be assured there is plenty.
is closest to it’s immediate predecessor. The riffs rely much less on inhumanly fast picking than previous albums; where the further you go back in their catalogue, the more prominent this style becomes. Let’s get the negatives out of the way…there are a couple noticeable detractors from the music, the most obvious being the ambient moments/industrial sampling. There are a few moments on the album (usually at the very end or very beginning of a song) where there is roughly one minute of ambience. While these do provide nice a nice halt from the breakneck pace of the album, they seem unnecessary.
Less noticeably, there are rare instances in which guitarist Joe Haley lays down very slow, chordy riffs, reminiscent of those you are likely to hear during Arena Rock verses. Not only does this damage the pacing of the album, but normally when such “riffs” are applied to music, something interesting is happening with the vocals, or another instrument, and that just isn’t the case here.
One of the biggest complaints I kept hearing about Symbols of Failure
was that vocalist Jason Peppiatt more or less never shut his mouth throughout the entire album. Individuals who felt this way will be relieved to know that his presence is slightly less perpetual on this album. There is also a substantial decrease in the amount of lyrics; which it is important to note that Psycroptic lyrics are not your run-of-the-mill Death Metal lyrics. They are mostly philosophical and are actually pretty good (drummer Dave Haley writes them). Back to the vocals, Peppiatt’s screams certainly aren’t the most brutal ever, which might serve as a turn-off to some of you hipsters out there. The man is not a groundbreaking vocalist like Chalky, but he surely doesn’t detract from the music.
As for guitarist and main songwriter, Joe Haley gives his all-around best performance on Ob(Servant)
; where there are less really great riffs on the album, (one being the one at 4:38 in Slaves of Nil
) there is more consistency with the riffs, and slightly less variation. Haley tends to stay on riffs for longer periods of time on this album (and actually returns to some of them) as opposed to the frenetic riff-changing that Psycroptic fans are accustomed to. This does add a sense of completion to the songs and makes them feel more…songy.
Dave Haley, brother of Joe Haley, relies much less on blastbeats than most Death Metal drummers out there, which unfortunately is a discerning quality. Obviously this alone doesn’t make him a great drummer, but it’s more than common knowledge to anyone familiar to anyone familiar with the band that he plays well. It’s safe to say he gives just a good performance on this album as any.
is a very good effort from one of the forerunners of Technical Death Metal. There aren’t necessarily any standout tracks like their previous records have, but this could be due to the consistency of the record. Here are my favorite tracks from the album however:
Slaves of Nil
The Shifting Equilibrium