Review Summary: Psychological horror overthrows jump scares in this new chapter.
There’s a manifestation of tenacity being displayed by Psyclon Nine. It doesn’t feel that long ago Nero’s life fell into the sprawling pits of oblivion, just months after the release of the exceptional [Order of the Shadow: Act I]
. Consumed by drug addiction, it all became problematic when Nero stole fan’s merchandise money to feed his filthy habit, subsequently leading to the band’s members apologising and promptly showing themselves to the exit door thereafter. The irony to all this, of course, is in spite of the hideous actions made by its frontman – and the numerous times Nero has stated Psyclon Nine is finished – it’s done little to diminish the band’s overall activity after said events. They never really left the scene, doing fairly regular shows as well as releasing [Disorder: The Shadow Sessions]
: a remix album to 2013’s magnum opus. It also seems fittingly appropriate to mention [Order of the Shadow: Act I]
was actually meant to be their last stab at recorded music, and for all intents and purposes sells itself as such. It’s a record with finality – a fully realised sound constructed with 10 years of experimentation and all the learning curves of its predecessors attached. To sum up, it was near perfection; a record that should have been pedestalized and heralded as the defining achievement for the band – regardless of the politics and controversies in and outside of the band – before laying it all to rest.
Which makes me admit, when you stack up these odds and look at the pathways they’d made for themselves prior to this record’s release, I was quite stunned to see a full-length Psyclon Nine LP staring me in the face during one of my periodic music searches. Written by Nero, long-time guitarist Rotny and returning synth player Sevin, Icon of the Adversary
displays an impressive balance of [Order of the Shadow: Act I]
’s unforgiving brutality with atmospherically lucid soundscapes. There’s less emphasis on all-out industrial explosions and pummelling black metal riffs, putting more attentive focus on mood making: exploring and assimilating its own surroundings in a more leisurely fashion. “Warm What’s Hallow” slithers around the dank, clinical aesthetic in an almost seductive fashion with droning synth effects and a hypnotic mid-tempo drum beat, while Nero’s purring croons pan across the spectrum of the track in an attempt to get inside your head. Yes, elusive tones and vague structures are the order of the day here; the album approaches its own songwriting stylings in the same way a soundtrack would, and for better or worse honestly pushes Psyclon Nine into a surprisingly fresh and enjoyable territory.
Indeed, I didn’t really see how an evolution could be formed by these guys, given how they’d left it, but they seem to have found it [again]. It’s quite possibly their most experimental offering yet, but also their most accessible. There’s more melody based at the heart of Icon of the Adversary
; more digestible guitar riffs and a little less biting vocal performance at times. The LP plays its cards close to Antichrist Superstar
’s wilder moments: instrumentally obvious at times, but Nero’s raspy, demonic vocal lows on “Beware The Wolves” candidly correspond to Manson’s earlier days. “The Last” sums up the album’s core values well, showcasing a band moving out of its comfort zones with clean vocal work and a Herculean wall of epic synth to support it; however, the song abruptly grinds to a halt of silence, eventually introducing more skin crawling ambience before putting the album to an end. It’s a ballsy move and I can see its efforts potentially alienating some fans in the process. It's subtle, textured, methodical and more patient than anything previously done. Riffs and serrated speeds take a backseat, and looking at the 10-track offering in its entirety there’s more unsettling ambient tracks and repetitive structures than not, warranting a more attentive attention span than before. “Crown Of The Worm” or “The Light Of Armageddon” will whet the appetite of its fans, but from thereon expect a slow, brooding monster that gets under your skin than the head-on fusion of industrial black metal or aggro electronics typically associated with the band. Though Nero has had his problems in recent years, Psyclon Nine seem completely focused and free of boundaries – maybe more so now than they’ve ever been. An excellently expansive record, and a serious reason to watch out for further projects in the future.
PACKAGING: Standard jewel case.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://psyclonnine.bandcamp.com/album/icon-of-the-adversary