Review Summary: A fitting finale[Order of the Shadow: Act I]
will be the last full-length Psyclon Nine record according to frontman Nero Bellum. Damn. This is a band that has been getting better and better with each new release and their impending retirement from recording is a big loss to the industrial scene as a whole. Psyclon Nine will tour in support of the new record – they might tour for another 10 years for all we know – but in recent interviews Nero Bellum has clearly suggested that as far as albums go, this will be the last full-length record to grace our ears. The "Act I" at the end of the title leaves Bellum the choice to add installments – musical expansion packs if you will – to Order of the Shadow
, but as it concludes the trilogy that started with Crwn Thy Frnicatr
, it also acts as a vessel on board which Psyclon Nine can eventually fade away into the mist. It is only fitting then that this vessel is Psyclon Nine’s most well-polished and fierce work to date. Order of the Shadow
may be more straightforward than We The Fallen
was, but it’s also more crushing and more intense while retaining the consistency of its predecessor. There is a lot more crush and a lot less bounce here than on past Psyclon Nine releases, but the album is of the same quality the superb We The Fallen was
. Order of the Shadow
is the band’s heaviest, most organic album, and I couldn’t see Psyclon Nine going out any other way.
The black metal that feeds Psyclon Nine’s dark industrial flames has never before been shoveled into the mix in such quantities, consequently making Order of the Shadow
the band’s meanest album to date. The orchestral vibe found on earlier records rarely permeates the sound anymore, as more savage tones are on show. Already during the first full song "Shadows Unveiled" will the listener be pounded into oblivion by the band’s rediscovered, lethal blend of black metal and aggrotech – a feat that will be repeated many times during the length of this CD. While Psyclon Nine has always been an incredibly intense band, before Order of the Shadow
I wouldn’t have called any of their albums truly "crushing". Yet, that’s exactly the impression this record leaves after you’ve given it its first spin: it’s a crushing tour de force, sporting a booming production and high intensity levels, that injects a much-needed dose of adrenaline into the bloodstream. This is no ordinary industrial metal album, but another fine musical representation of the dark arts by Psyclon Nine.
There’s more to Order of the Shadow
than unmitigated intensity and heaviness, though. While the pulverizing start of the record firmly transfixes, it’s from the contrastingly catchy single "Use Once And Destroy" that the album really takes off and adroitly exhibits the many sides of Psyclon Nine. "Remains of Eden: II" is possibly the band’s most sinister cut with a hair-rising chorus shout of "give your hands to the reaper
," while "Order of the Shadow [The Heretic Awakened]" is every bit worthy of representing the album as a whole with its poisonous bite, cinematic melodies and many pace shifts. The trio ("Take My Hand While I Take My Life," "[Act : I] Penance" and "The Saint and the Valentine") that concludes this album, and in a way also Psyclon Nine’s career, brings forth some much needed serenity and melodicism, providing an (for lack of a better word) epic conclusion to Order of The Shadow
. A grand closer was due to wrap everything up and the band did not disappoint, as "The Saint and the Valentine," a half-acoustic elegy with a dramatic main melody, serves as the ultimate late-night farewell.
2013 has not been a good year for industrial metal. Highlights have been few and far between and the only records that truly impressed me were by Mechina and The Amenta – two bands who can’t be fully defined with the "industrial" denominator. Neither can Psyclon Nine for that matter, but as far as electronic metal albums go, Order of the Shadow
stands head and shoulders above its competitors (not that there were many, but still). It’s a fantastic final effort from Nero Bellum and co, displaying everything that made us appreciate Psyclon Nine in the first place. Nefarious interludes, dark industrial, ferocious metal, Bellum’s vicious screams and an inherent sense of candor – everything that made Pysclon Nine Psyclon Nine is here in a neatly streamlined package. On the downside, as much as I’m glad they didn’t disappoint and managed to put forth an album that can easily be the face of industrial metal in 2013, I’m gutted by the knowledge that this is most probably the last we see of Psyclon Nine on record. With them we will lose one of the most prolific, forward-thinking bands in industrial metal. The only upside? We have some damn fine records to dust off every now and again, the last of which is also a true highlight alongside We The Fallen