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I've been following the Tasmanian death metal crew, Psycroptic, for quite some time now. With Ob(Servant) in 2008, the band had a stylistic musical shift and replaced original vocalist Matthew "Chalky" Chalk with newcomer Jason Peppiatt. The music itself lost some of its former brutality, but the most noticeable difference was the change brought on by Peppiatt's vocals. While he still used a guttural vocal style, he also utilized a strained hardcore shout that rubbed many fans the wrong way. The vocals weren't all bad, but Peppiatt's performance tended to make him come off as a little green. Would Psycroptic be able to recover from this misstep? What path would the band take?
Psycroptic has returned with its new album, The Inherited Repression, and it is almost like another reboot for the band. While The Inherited Repression does have some ties to the sound on Ob(Servant), there are more differences than similarities. The new album as a whole feels more "organic and clean." The guttural vocals are now completely non-existent. The annoying, strained mid-range hardcore voice is gone too. Peppiatt has chosen to replace these styles with a single hardcore yell that fits quite well with the new organic feel of Psycroptic. While it still isn't my favorite vocal style, it's miles beyond anything he was doing in the past. Peppiatt has definitely matured as a vocalist. The guitars further the organic feeling through their tone. The guitars are distorted, but compared to the Pyscroptic of old, the guitar tone is practically clean. This allows for tons of clarity and adds an extra sense of precision when the riffs burst into a flurry of tangled notes. The album is loaded with blurs of scalar runs. These busy guitar licks especially shine in "Carriers of the Plague" and "Euphorinasia." The clean tone also helps arpeggiated chords and ringing notes sound distinct and crisp. (See "Carriers of the Plague" and "Forward to Submission" respectively.) The guitars also include some dark acoustic work ("Euphorinasia" and "Deprivation") and some sweet bendy riffs ("Carriers of the Plague," Unmasking the Traitors," and "From Scribe to Ashes"). There are no true guitar solos, but the busy licks that make up the riffs are more than a fair substitute. The bass guitar also helps contribute to the natural feeling with a warm, full tone. However, the bass doesn't call much attention to itself aside from a brief moment in "Unmasking the Traitors." The drums are the final piece of the puzzle in the warm sound of The Inherited Repression. In fact, the drums keep the whole band grounded throughout a multitude of rhythm, tempo, and time shifts. Like the other instruments, the drums bring a human feel to the album through their tone. The toms sound full and warm when they are rolling along in songs like "Euphorinasia" and "Become the Cult." The bass drums sound less "clicky" and more "real" than on past Psycroptic releases too. The new, more human feel of The Inherited Repression doesn't quite sound like any other band, and that's a major accomplishment in itself. Luckily, these songs are extremely memorable to boot. Hell, they're downright infectious. Initially, I approached The Inherited Repression with caution and doubt, but I have come away convinced that it ranks with Psycroptic's best work.
The Inherited Repression is definitely a pleasant surprise. While it's not exactly what this long-time fan would wish for from the band, I can't really complain either. The band isn't going to go back to the "classic" sound. We have to accept that. Psycroptic is still growing and changing. What matters most is that the band is back on track making good music. And that's fine by me.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com