Review Summary: Guitar centric, dark themes, almost indecipherable vocals, this is Psyclon Nine at their best.
Many bands, especially those of the industrial variety, live extremely short lives. The ever changing fan-base is quick to run with new trends, and can completely leave a group grappling with the reality that they've been outdone by a man with turntables. Psyclon Nine didn't have any of these issues, instead the group was crippled by lead vocalist Marshall Goppert's (also known as Nero Bellum) drug addiction and subsequent money issues. While 2009 saw the group release We the Fallen
it sadly proved to be the bands last album, and while some groups go out with nary a whimper Psyclon Nine goes out with a ***ing bang.
We the Fallen
is dark, far darker than it's predecessors. Supposedly influenced by Bellum's nagging suspicion that "people [are] like emotional parasites, worming their way into the hearts of their victims in order to have some sort of influence on their actions" the album seeps into emotional/relationship territory, yet due to the distortion of the vocals the theme of each track can almost be completely ignored. While it's easy to focus completely on Bellum's vocals the rest of the group is not one to be ignored; the guitar work refrains from being pounding to the point of nauseating, the keys and synths are tasteful and never cheesy, and if listening closely one can hear the bass thrumming away in the background.
Starting off with the anger and hate of "Soulless (The Makers Reflection)" the album hits hard and fast early; the one-two combo of the deliciously dark"We The Fallen" and personal anthem "Heartworm" Psyclon Nine are out to impress. The former features one of the best initial buildups in this genre, climaxing as the sample line "Jesus Christ have mercy, have mercy" plays intermixed with the near and far screams of what sounds like a truly tortured Bellum. "Heartworm" is synth heavy, melding into the blast type beats of the drums; the guitar work here is some of the best in the album, and the vocal hook during the chorus will have fans screaming along in bliss hours after.
Sadly the initial rush of energy ebbs away, and while it's only slightly noticeable it at first leaves the audience feeling like Bellum and co. decided to hit with their top tracks early rather than place them throughout the album. This is also not an album for those who are not found of the genre, as the tracks can quite easily blur into one album long mess of "WTF?" Although these two issues will leave many a potential fan sitting by the wayside, never to return again, there is one diamond to be found later in the album; "Suicide Note Lullaby" shows Psyclon Nine at their softest and becomes a tour de force in the process.
Starting with a restrained, relatively distortion clear guitar line and tasteful yet simple drums the track lulls the audience into it's open arms. Bellum can be understood quite clearly hear as he claims never again/the smell of smoking fills your lungs/never again/chocking on the fear of darkness... never to be held/never to be free
. It comes off as truly emotional and powerful moment, and as his whisper fades the distortion kicks in, the energy is cranked back to "Heartworm" levels, and a quick burst of the bands fully distorted dark glory greats the listener. This restraint sets the track apart from the rest of the album, other than "Under The Judas Tree," and shows a side of the group that fans will never get to see mature; and even though just this taste will leave many wanting more it's comforting to know that the band was innovating their sound to their very last breath.
Psyclon Nine were controversial and died from internal problems. As a band that showed a great mix of genres and wasn't afraid of the controversy it's saddening to see them go, yet how sad can fans be when they left us what is arguably their best album? Though the energy ebbs towards the middle the entire album still remains strong, and the late gem "Suicide Note Lullaby" shows a new side to the group. Psyclon Nine might be dead, but We the Fallen
is one amazing last effort.