The Psyke Project

Guillotine

Written by: AP on 22/05/2013 19:44:01

I've counted myself a devout fan of The Psyke Project - the self-proclaimed epic hardcore monster - ever since the release of their sophomore LP "Daikini" in 2005. I still remember the conflicting feelings it instilled in me: the terror from the psychotic rage of a song like "In the Mist", and the intellectual arousal from the ominous melodies and subtle progression of a track like "Dark Halls Red Floors". Here was a band that dared defy the strict conventions that plagued, and still continue to plague the Danish hardcore and metal underground, and experiment with musical concoctions that were largely unheard of at the time. Since then, the band has ebbed and flowed between transcribing the monolithic essence of nature into post-metal ("Dead Storm", 2009), stripping their craft to its bare essentials ("Ebola", 2011 - split LP with As We Fight), and combining the two approaches ("Apnea", 2007) to persistently breathtaking results. One thing that has never been in short supply in the band's music (and live performances, for that matter) however, is violence - inspected from all of its aspects.

For all intentes and purposes, much like their stateside compatriots The Chariot, The Psyke Project are a band who thrive on violence, and this latest symphony of destruction of theirs, "Guillotine" (as its title alone implies) is no different. True to tradition, the songs have been recorded live in as few takes as possible, thus preserving the authenticity and raw energy of their notorious live concerts and feeding the band's appetite for intensely confrontational, borderline destructive music. "Guillotine" is best described as a marriage of the dark cacophony of "Daikini" and the crushing immediacy of TPP's half of "Ebola" with a slight peppering of black metal dusted in for extra flavour, and in such matrimony it offers some of the most perpetually punishing, morose material the band has ever written. Even the rare rays of light that do manage to penetrate the suffocating darkness that reigns over the album are wrought in morbid gloom - such as is the case on the most melodic track on the album: "Empire".

Most notably though, TPP have deployed here a fresh batch of influence from a genre currently being professed and popularised by bands like This Gift Is A Curse and Hexis: pitch black hardcore with profuse nods toward Scandinavian extreme metal. This new incorporation becomes clear already on the opening track "Guillotine" and "Death Sight" in its immediate wake, vocalist Martin Nielskov's Zao-inspired growl sounding more harrowing than ever (big applause to Jacob Bredahl for this epiphany), and the instrumental base taking a form best described as Converge on acid, mingling with the two aforementioned bands. Indeed, the ambition here seems to be to suck all light out of the listener's surroundings and to force him/her to stare into the eyes of Death, an interpretation of whom I feel is quite well reflected on the album art, for some 40 minutes. "The End", "Ghost Fight" and "Good for Nothing" do offer some reprise in a familiar-sounding TPP track custom designed for live mayhem and featuring that trademark primal style of guitarplay heavy on the bends; but then "Partisan" rains down Thor's hammer with a suffocating, and almost preposterously heavy drone that sounds like the Danish answer to songs like "Teach" or "Evan Perks" by The Chariot.

There is a certain air of Cult of Luna to the initial proceedings of "The Mute", but rest assured the beauty we glimpsed on "Dead Storm" has all but been shaved off in favour of generating one of the most merciless Danish albums of all time, the flirt between black metal and hardcore harnessed into a sound much heavier, and in some ways much more extreme than either of those genres tend to achieve. It is an atmosphere devoid completely of hope, and one which, once again, allows TPP to explore fresh pastures without compromising what makes them such a unique and readily recognisable proposition. But at the same time, with the exception of tracks like "The Mute" and "Empire", one is left gasping for air almost all the time, much of this owing to Nielskov's exasperating vocals (mind you, in a positive sense) and the remaining musicians' choice of tone, chords and rhythmic patterns. There is a pressing need, I feel, of liberating clean interludes in the songs themselves, such as those found on "Dead Storm" and "Apnea", and in this respect "Guillotine" falls slightly short of those masterpieces.

Still, "Guillotine" is another excellent piece of music from one of the most creative bands in the country; one which finds its primary qualities in its ability to deliver a style both familiar and new to fans of the band. But I suspect it will remain an album for fans of the band, and for fans of the blackened hardcore genre, rather than one which will inspire a host of new bands to throw themselves into the frey.

8

Download: Guillotine, Partisan, The End, Ghost Fight, Good for Nothing
For the fans of: The Chariot, Converge, Hexis, This Gift Is A Curse
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.05.2013
Bloated Veins / Black Lake Records / Braincrushing Records / Swarm of Nails / Molestin Records

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