Review Summary: Rise of the psychonauts.
It’s not often that some of my favourite albums of the year come from out of nowhere. Let me clarify; more often than not my favourite records come with no specified amounts of hype, specifically from bands with a certain level of prestige (and a fan base to match). Psychonaut’s Unfold the God Man
does not fit the criteria mentioned above - rather the left of field post metal powerhouse came throwing equal measures of The Ocean into a burly wall of Mastodon riffs, while incorporating light sludge and some rather Tool-esque atmospheres. Each track etches into a world of sonic progressiveness, without forgetting the very foundation which infects its listeners with a sudden need to bang their heads. This is more impressive when one considers the simple fact that Unfold the God Man
is the group’s debut full-length. For a band just flexing its muscles, Psychonaut are proving they’re a force worthy of the year’s highest accolades. Each of the band’s compositions found on Unfold the God Man
are gems in a mine, while “Celestial Dictator” and the closer, “Nothing Is Consciousless” sit as the debut’s shining diamonds - but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here aren’t we?
Take the album’s instrumental opener (and quirkily titled) “All I Saw As A Huge Monkey” for example; intrepid leads bellow out of the speaker and crash into polyrhythmic percussive jaunts which move with the track's natural crescendo and decrescendo. Psychonaut’s penchant for adventurous atmospheres and daring leads unveil a band enjoying themselves. “All I Saw As A Huge Monkey” is an ambitious wodge of instrumental post metal by itself; but considering it’s absent vocal writing style and the waves of sheer enjoyment found within, it almost hurts to say that this is the album’s only
musically weak leak.
From here, Unfold the God Man
pushes forward firmly on its influences. If I can test your mind for a second; try imagining a supergroup, stacked with all your favourite parts of The Ocean and the Crack The Skye
to The Hunter
-era Mastodon… while someone jams Lateralus
in the background. Sure, that statement alone is a pretty daunting prospect, lifting expectation to a summit of [near] unearthly hype. But the album is
a statement, and one that’s not without warrant. “The Story Of Your Enslavement” and “Kabuddah'' are easily digestible slabs in the vein mentioned above, but don’t offer anything innovative - not that they need to pass the combination of obvious influencing of more prominent acts. But it’s the climes of the record’s latter half that impresses where most other acts fail and for all the promise of the debut full-length’s opening third, “The Fall Of Consciousness” leads the charge.
It’s clear that Psychonaut has a clear grasp on dynamics - not all tracks blast away at an impenetrable wall of sound. Rather Unfold the God Man
caresses and probes, before crashing through. It’s about adding the right parts, but when they’re needed instead of all the time for the sake of it. The trippy place-setting of “Halls Of Amenti” finds their foundation in the groove-filled rock of Mastodon vibes, but the ebb and flow of the track’s bounce pulse on the album’s rather distinct overall heartbeat. While the band may lean heavily
on their own instrumental prowess, I find it hard to fault a band’s absent-minded psychedelia in this vein, especially considering how ponderously I’m leaning on some prominent comparisons.
The “Nexus” of Unfold the God Man
brings hypnotic chanting and sinister atmospheres to life. The haunting slow climb of vocal led instrumentation - being in that it takes the best part of two minutes for the band to include mellow leads and even-paced rhythms. What follows is a slow build into the album’s cumulative final composition. “Nothing Is Consciousless” saunters into the fray and takes almost sixteen minutes to run its course - but the journey is one to be taken repeatedly, with the same gratifying results. Specifically, the track itself caters to all fields of the post metal band referencing made earlier within this review; the quieter moments provide the breathing room for the Mastodon-style psychedelia to interlope with the more punishing The Ocean moments, but each section runs in tandem with the next, rather than simply being ‘another’ part of a defining moment. For almost sixteen minutes, “Nothing Is Consciousless” becomes that moment
that brings the album’s massive seventy minute run-time together.
It almost goes without saying that Psychonaut’s Unfold the God Man
may be too much for the casual fan to digest in a single sitting. But the album’s worth isn’t found in a casual listening experience. Rather, Unfold the God Man
is an album of triumph, not to mention some well deserved hyperbole. Mostly, Psychonaut have launched themselves into a world of accolades to be served either now, or the near future. As far as ambitious debut releases goes, Psychonaut’s is a welcome surprise in spite of working in the shadow of its influences and well worth the seventy minute journey.