How do you describe the indescribable? Attempts to define the sound of Denmark’s The Psyke Project have ranged from Neurosis meets Converge, noise grind, to post hardcore (I’m still not sure what that means). So here’s my take on the band’s newest release, APNEA: If Godflesh and GARDENS OF GRIEF-era At the Gates had a baby, it would sound something like APNEA. Originally seeing a limited release overseas in 2007, a new deal with Lifeforce Records finally sees APNEA getting proper US and European distribution.
APNEA is the band’s 3rd album and in an unusual progression sees the band undergoing a caustic de-evolution from their previous efforts. 2003’s SAMARA sounded very clean and precise, 2005’s DAIKINI threw some sludge and grind into the mix, while 2008’s release of APNEA exhibits an open ended, drone laden, bottom heavy grind – all adjective concepts that really don’t do justice to describing the final product. Though The Pyske Project has endured numerous comparisons to other bands, the songs on APNEA indeed bear an unmistakable resemblance to early 90s’ Godflesh. The gut wrenching bottom end that opens up “The Voice of Commandment” and “Creating Landscapes”, the disharmonic guitar on “I Get Paralyzed” and “Poems Written by Kings”, they all owe a royalty to STREETCLEANER. The At the Gates reference is reserved for vocalist Martin Nielskov. His unintelligible, wide mouthed delivery is reminiscent of a young Tomas Lindberg before he learned to enunciate. Nielskov sometimes mixes things up with some more decipherable intonations and even some mellow crooning towards the end of the disc.
The discordant sound is interjected with fits of blast beats and grinding guitars, as evidenced on “Panic” the first single from APNEA. “Dedication” opens with a rolling guitar riff that leads into some off-tempo time signatures, creating a crushing groove that would be suitable for even the angriest of pits. The slooooow drone of “Jugganata” creates an uneasy discomfort that doesn’t let up for almost 12 minutes. “Not on My Time” is an uncomfortably quiet album closer, similar to some of Anathema’s more recent efforts.
Collectively, the 10 songs on APNEA succeed in creating an aural environment that is sometimes uneasy but consistently compelling. Fans of any of the more abstract bands that The Psyke Project has been associated with may be able to see APNEA through from start to finish, but more casual fans might find it harder to stomach the 8, 9, and 10 minute drone-a-thons, opting to skip forward to see what the next track has to offer. Regardless of which camp you may fall into, APNEA is at the very least worth a visit if only for the experience.
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