Album Review: Psycroptic – Divine Council

4/5

Usually, when a band contains siblings, they already gain a head start on synchronicity, and Psycroptic are no exception. Brothers Dave (drums) and Joe Haley (guitars) have been the backbone of this technical metal force since its inception 20-plus years ago. And with their new album, Divine Council, they continue to admirably refine and polish their songwriting prowess.

The nine-track gauntlet commences with “Rend Asunder,” firing off a double-bass drum beat and bass guitar intro that leads into an intense triplet and bending guitar riff. Their grooves throughout this opening track, as well as in the majority of the full-length, punch with precision a la Lamb Of God. The following ripper, “A Fool’s Errand,” gives a preview of the record’s dissonant element, whose chorus riff is invoking ancient gods.

“Enslavement” is a striking song that one could say was overlooked as a potential single. Its main riff is a groovy, alarming pacemaker that cleverly utilizes artificial harmonics and delay. It’s also the first moment where synths contribute with impact. By this point, we’ve settled into the bewitching vocal dynamic featuring official vocalist Jason Peppiatt and guests Jason Keyser (Origin) and Amy Wiles. Peppiatt delivers that Aussie, staccato, dry style of yelling (is it the brutal heat there that gives them this distinction?) while Keyser and Wiles blend their multi-toned voices.

“Ashes of Our Empire” acts as a heavy, transitory song that ushers in the second half of Divine Council, whose tracks are a thick layer of existential dread. In the final four hymns, Psycroptic effectively creates an atmosphere that fits the misanthropic lyrical themes. The beginning of “The Prophets Council” sets a dramatic scene with a riveting flamenco-style acoustic intro, then the rest of this nail-biter is full of blood-boiling tapping riffs and slightly melodious vocals.

Lo-fi drums and low-gain guitars kick off “Awakening,” which then carries on in haunting fashion once the heaviness takes over, especially during its dissonant, blast-beating bridge. “A Fragile Existence” keeps the visuals flowing as it transpires with a cinematic, choir intro by Wiles. Its ending assaults the psyche in waves through a cascading breakdown. The final curtain of the LP is “Exitus,” featuring eerie, whispery growls during its outset, then concluding on ominous synths.

Overall, Divine Council is a strong representation of the band’s progression as songwriters and their vibrant musicianship. Joe Haley’s tremolo, single-note scale, hammer-on, ADHD riffs and licks are in total synch with Todd Stern’s slick bass lines and Dave’s intricate beats. Catch this colorful metal exhibition when it releases on August 5th via Prosthetic Records.

Buy the album here.

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