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Psycroptic's finest album (also least accessible) - 97%

Fractal_Mortality, February 27th, 2006

Before listening to this album, I recall someone describing it to me as "riff salad." As humorous and negative as that sounds, it was in retrospect, a great image of what this album is. However, I'm a man that loves salad. I love beginning with those huge chunks of lettuce, then moving on to some cheese, then the meat, eggs, chick peas, those little miniature bread sticks, and then pulling it all together with a glob of ranch dressing. Delicious. But, before this turns into more of a love for food essay instead of a metal review... I'll continue with Symbols of Failure.

The album is intricate as all get up. It’s diverse, and constantly changing. It’s an album with repetition (so as not to become totally unmemorable), and yet no few seconds seem exactly the same. There are moments that turn epic, on this album… In fact I’d dare to say every song has moments or riffs that reach out, into the sky, and rule supremely over the remainder of the song. The problem with all of this is that listening to a record akin to Symbols of Failure will not be especially “great” the first time around. You’ll be amazed by all of what’s going on, but you won’t be able to grasp it. The beautiful thing about this, however, is that after repeated listens, you’ll begin to notice more and more… Differentiating parts of songs, and remembering particular riffs and sections that will turn the initial jumbled up mess of technical riffs and incredible drumming into a weaving, flowing, arrangement of songs.

Being a fan of Chalky’s vocals from Scepter of the Ancient, I must say that Jason Peppiatt does a good job of capturing the variety and tone of Chalky, while not being quite as over the top. This, though not as amusing and entertaining, seems to actually fit the more sterile aesthetic of psycroptic’s music. As previously mentioned, the guitars on this album are amazing, and cover so much ground that it’s hard to believe Joe Haley isn’t playing two at the same time, Dave Haley also provides some excellent extreme drumming here, that proves to escalate above his peers, being interesting and adding to the epic feel of some songs, with speedy snare hits under running an intense guitar segment.

All in all, this album is psycroptic’s most consistant and dramatic work. Where Scepter of the Ancients faltered a bit at parts, Symbols of Failure remains solid throughout (though I’d say “Alpha Breed,” Missionaries of a Future to Come,” and the final track, “Cleansing a Misguided Path,” are definitely favorites of mine). The only small problem is that people clinging only to immediately catchy, melodic, music will likely be turned off. Then again, those people probably aren’t the biggest fans of technical metal, and extreme music to begin with.