As The Kingdom Drowns

Written by: RUB on 07/01/2019 09:33:02

Let me just play with open cards on this one: Psycroptic once released what is probably the favourite technical death metal album of mine, namely 2003’s “The Scepter of the Ancients”, which will forever hold a very special significance for me. However, since it is so difficult to top such a masterpiece, I’ve had a hard time really getting into the albums following it, especially since the band also lost their charismatic lead singer Matthew ‘Chalky’ Chalk after releasing the aforementioned record. This did start to change with their 2012 release, “The Inherited Repressions”, though, and even more so with their self-titled offering from 2015; the albums began to strike a chord with me once again, as they contained some absolutely mind-blowing tracks. Fast-forward to the end of last year, when the Tasmanian group’s seventh full-length was released, and I was very eager to find out if they could continue this positive development.

The first track, “We Were the Keepers”, will probably catch the listener completely off guard. You are thrown into an intense tempo right from the first chord, and with such a savaging and memorable riff as the one present here, this could arguably be the best track on the album. It even packs a melodic section in the chorus, with a sample of soft female singing by Amy Wiles, which only adds to the grandeur of this piece. Besides this, the track is a brutal and technical beast, with the blastbeats and double pedal drumming rarely slowing down, and when this is coupled with how complete the entire song feels, it might in fact be one of the best from 2018 in general. The high standard continues into the second track, “Frozen Gaze”, which is sure to deliver plenty of mosh and circle pit possibilities live. It is a more straight-up technical death metal song than the opener, but when the composition is as good as here, one can only bang one’s head in approval over how great a start the record gets off to.

Riffsmith Joe Haley keeps impressing with his writing prowess on the tracks following those two, and when the roars by vocalist Jason Peppiatt, and the rhythm section by drummer David Haley and newcomer-bassist Todd Stern chime in, it is easy to hear that you’re dealing with something special. Just check out the insane riffing on “Directive”, as well as the rhythms leading up to and following it — that is simply impressive song writing. Just like on “Deadlands”, we’re dealing with something spectacular; even though this might be more of a straightforward technical death metal track as whole, it still manages to spew out plenty of melody and fast-paced riffing, not to mention a brilliant song structure that makes it stand out and eliminate any notion that this might be some kind of dime-a-dozen metal track.

As the title track cues, the tempo is slowed down to a more neck-friendly pace, but it is still sure to make heads bang, as well as incite plenty of air guitar action to go with the insanely technical intro riff. This track brings some much-needed breathing room, and although it has its fast-paced passages as well, the tempo set by the first four songs in comparison has been extremely high. This speed is quickly picked up again with “Beyond the Black”, which is yet another mosh-friendly banger with an epic breakdown just after the 02:30-minute mark. In fact, few tracks, if any, on here spark any resentment from me. Every single track has something to offer the listener, whether it is an epic riff (and there’s a lot of those), clever usage of breakdowns or song dynamics, mesmerizing drum patterns, or all of the above (see “Momentum of the Void” for a good example of this).

I could continue my wall of text with more arguments for why you should check this album out, but hopefully I’ve already made my case. As we saw with their self-titled outing from 2015, the tracks have once again started to echo that former glory of “The Scepter…”, as the music is no longer just technical death metal in that it contains so many more influences and inspirations; well-thought rhythms, impressive song structures and writing, and of course memorable riffs that all give the tracks so much more soul than your average metal death metal. This is the reason “As the Kingdom Drowns” has eventually made its way to my end of the year list — not because they’ve written what very well could be my all-time favourite album in the genre, but because they’ve still got that special something to be relevant in today’s vortex of insanely technical death metal. One can only hope that they’ll continue to explore their own technical prowess, which could eventually lead to yet another stunning masterpiece, just as this album is closing in on being.

Download: We Were the Keepers, Momentum of the Void, Frozen Gaze, Beyond the Black, Directive
For the fans of: Decapitated, Necrophagist, Obscura, Rivers of Nihil, Spawn of Possession
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.11.2018
Prosthetic Records

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