Psycroptic – Divine Council
Released: August 5th 2022
David Haley // Drums
Joe Haley // Guitars
Jason Peppiatt // Vocals
Todd Stern // Bass
Jason Keyser // Vocals
One of Australia’s greatest and most successful metal exports, Hobart’s Psycroptic have been captivating extreme music enthusiasts across the globe for over two decades. The Tassie tech-death titans’ eighth studio effort, Divine Council, sees the act at a bit of a crossroads. Whilst highly regarded worldwide, one criticism that could be thrown at Psycroptic recently is that they have fallen into a bit of a set routine with their music. There’s always impressive playing on display, but they can be found lacking in the song-composition department at times. Seemingly set on actively changing that, Divine Council sees the group creating their most accessible and immediate release to date – but still unquestionably Psycroptic.
The full throttle opener ‘Rend Asunder’ is perfect way to introduce the next chapter of Psycroptic. The technical side of their sound is dialled back just a notch, giving the vocals, hooks and grooves more room to stick out and grab the listener’s ear. Not to say they’ve dulled down their complex side completely, with many of the album’s finest moments drenched in the air tight musicianship – check out the absolutely bonkers guitar run that crops up halfway through the excellent ‘A Fools Errand’. The grooving ‘Enslavement’ and ‘Awakening‘ are more examples of the band pushing their style out of their usual sphere, whilst the furious ‘This Shadowed World’ and ‘The Prophet’s Council’, which features an amazing acoustic intro, show Psycroptic still excelling in highly impressive playing.
Joe Haley might be one of, if not the most impressive guitar players to come out this great southern land. Very scarcely does he take a lead break, instead the riffs he fires off are of such complexity and uniqueness that you never miss any soloing action. He and his equally talented drummer brother Dave Haley are undoubtedly the spine of the band. The addition of Origin singer Jason Keyser in a backing/co-vocalist role is an interesting, yet effective, move from the group. One long time weak spot of Psycroptic is that frontman Jason Peppiatt‘s mid-range bark can be rather flat and monotone – having Keyser in the supporting role adding growls and screams beefs up the vocal attack immensely, possibly at the cost of lyrical enunciation though.
Divine Council is quite well produced and mixed, the guitars have plenty of mid-range bite, although there’s not much low end pushing through from bassist Todd Stern – something that has been sadly commonplace on previous Psycroptic records. The excellent, and aptly titled, closer ‘Exitus’ is great way to wrap up the LP. The blistering pace and big melodic chorus gives it an almost apocalyptic vibe – however the song feels like it wraps up a little too quick, with the bridge/outro passage feeling as if it could been drawn out to an even further to create an even more epic conclusion.
Divine Council is a strong release from Psycroptic – definitely their finest in a long time. It’s certainly more accessible than their past albums, yet still showing elements of the complexity that they’ve built their career on. Big props must be given to the Tasmanian’s for being willing to try new things this far into their career – and while the band still sound like Psycroptic, it’s accessible enough for newer fans to sink their teeth into, while the improved vocals will address previous issues many have had in the past. The bar for great new music in 2022 has been set very high already, so Divine Council might not as strong as some other records released this year, but it’s still a killer effort from one of this country’s greatest heavy music exports.
Psycroptic – Divine Council tracklisting
1. Rend Asunder
2. A Fool’s Errand
3. This Shadowed World
5. Ashes of Our Empire
6. The Prophet’s Council
8. A Fragile Existence
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