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A Brutal Nespithe - 97%

lord_ghengis, January 2nd, 2010

If there is one bad thing about underground music scenes, it's that it's possible for absolute gems to fall through the cracks. The early to mid-90's death metal scene sadly was one which misplaced a lot of great music, and Adramelech's stunning debut could be the biggest loss of the lot. Psychostasia is dripping with originality, passion and vision. Every minute of this album is filled with an unmatched style of strange yet uncompromising riffing and a unique and instantly memorable sense of obscure melody. It fuses the awkward, alien riffing style of Demilich's legendary debut Nespithe with a healthy dose of vitriolic and vicious traditional Finish death metal. The resulting combination delivers the best of both worlds, making Psychostasia an album suited for any death metal fan.

One of the keys to Psychostasia being so interesting is that it has two distinct styles. One which is the odd Demilich inspired strangeness, quite a bit more aggressive in fashion, but missing none of complex fretwork and song structuring. This is mixed in with a lot of straight up death metal riffing and Dismember-like use of melody, which gives the album a sense of power and violence that shames their fellow countrymen. Adramelech simply never give you too much of one thing, there's elements of technical death metal, old school Finnish brutality and doomy heaviness, all displayed with an airy, almost black metal atmosphere. There are so many ideas on offer that it never gets stale.

This atmosphere is driven by the roomy production with no instrument dominating the sound, and the by the unconventional throaty grunts of the Jarkko Rantanen. Every instrument is audible and clear, leaving enough space to show off the various technical elements that make up about half this album, but without turning it into an in-band dick waving contest. The vocals are quiet and the bass is loud, but this seems like less of a mixing mistake and more of a conscious decision. The loud bass helps drive the grooves through what could otherwise break down into a mess of angular rhythms, and the strangely distant vocals add to the alien quality of the music. This is much like how Antti Boman's burps aid Demilich's atypical sound, but these have the same effect whilst not seeming quite so 'silly', and pack quite a bit more punch.

Musically, Psychostasia is a reasonably technical affair, about a 3rd of it is straight forward old school DM and traditional melodies, so it avoids the technical death metal tag, but the album is quite a challenge to digest fully. It has layers and layers of complex rhythm work to go along with the speedy fretwork to keep an inquisitive minded listener interested for years, and enough stomping riffs to keep your casual headbanger more than entertained. Tempos rise and fall frequently but they do so smoothly, without ever resorting to moronic stop-start “song writing”. This is where the majority of the low end technicality lies, the drumming is not packed with crazy fills, but Rantanen's use of various beats ranging from simplistic old school pounding rhythms, to polyrhythmic double bass patterns, to off-time beats, to blasts and his transitions from one to another are just as impressive as the most complex of fill players.

That isn't to say that the leads and riffs aren't absolutely top notch, because they are, but it's the compositional skills which bring it all together which makes this album so good. There simply isn't anything this strange that flows this well. With that said, the leads are all exceptional, usually melodic, but filled with the trademarked off centre melodic patterns, and full of technical flair, again giving the album yet another level that it can be appreciated on.

Adramelech's debut is an absolute gem that was somehow lost among the masses of quality output from Finland during the early/mid 90’s, and one that will hopefully be able to thrive with the internet. It's got all of the quirky charm of other obscure albums which have been dug up over the last few years, but it's still fast, catchy and aggressive at the same time.