Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns

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Reviewed: November, 2018
Released: 2018, Prosthetic Records
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

With their self-titled 2015 album, Tasmanian quartet Psycroptic signaled a rather marked departure from the often mind-boggling technical death metal they had built their reputation on for more than a decade. Picking up on some of the groovier, moodier, more controlled moments of 2012’s The Inherited Repression, it went all in and ended with a more pronounced metalcorey sound thanks to the ample crunching hooks, occasional breakdowns and shout-along chorus, and intermittent acoustic flourishes.

As if to show from the get-go that things were going to be different that time around, the album cover art was far more subdued and symbolic, with this muted red and gold color scheme and zen-like design. Even the band’s logo morphed from the usual death metal tangle into a traditional font.

Well, things are more “back to normal” with As The Kingdoms Drown, the Psycroptic’s seventh album. The thorny logo and hellish artwork of old are back and the tech-death dexterity has returned in full force – though some of the melodic conceits and grooviness of the last couple albums do carry over, as does the variety of tones and textures, which, in the end, is a good thing.

“We Were The Keepers” explodes out of gate with a couple quick drum rolls by Dave Haley before his brother Joe unleashes a torrent of riffs. Once the blast beats kick in, it’s all guns blazing with frontman Jason Peppiatt shouting along for all he’s worth. “Frozen Gaze” keeps up the intensity, but throws in a batch of bad-ass hooks. “Directive” slows the pace, but over its chunky rhythm Joe Haley’s guitaring is all over the place, countering the song’s catchiness with its complexity. “Deadland” offers more of the same.

The monumental title track stands as Kingdoms’ literal and figurative centerpiece. The fifth of nine tracks, it shifts from shuddering doom to spastic sprints and back on a dime and features an epic chorus laced with pianos and very faint female vocal accompaniment that is nothing short of triumphant.

The epic chorus treatment is a regular visitor here, being featured on “We Were The Keepers” and the dizzying “Beyond The Black,” among others, but is done with a minimum of the usual cliches. There are no soaring clean vocals or contrived melodrama in the music. Any accents remain in the background, and the anthemic swells feel part of the natural ebb and flow.

The lumbering “Upon These Stones” feels a bit aimless, with Dave Haley’s busy tribal-sounding drumbeats and his brother’s spider-walk guitar work coming and going from what is an otherwise slow-burning number. But it’s the lone track here where the band seem to have their wires crossed, and is followed by the more succinct and effectively blunt-force “Monument of the Void” and “You Belong Here, Below,” which closes the album with some of its most crushing, emphatic riffs. So no harm done.

As The Kingdoms Drown is Psycroptic’s most well-rounded effort. And when put in perspective it becomes readily apparent how what the band did over their last couple albums has led them to this point. So if you are a fan of the band who had grown a bit wary of where Psycroptic might be headed, and I count myself among then, rest easy. Everything comes together with aplomb here and proves the band was probably traveling on the right path all along.



Jason Peppiatt – vocals
Joe Haley – guitar
Todd Stern – bass guitar
Dave Haley – drums

Track Listing
1. We Were The Keepers
2. Frozen Gaze
3. Directive
4. Deadlands
5. As The Kingdom Drowns
6. Beyond The Black
7. Upon These Stones
8. Momentum of the Void
9. You Belong Here, Below