What the hell!? Why am I only now hearing about this band? These fuckers hail from Denmark, and here on their second full-length they unload track after track of relentlessly doomy pummelings the likes of which should please early fans of Isis who became increasingly dismayed when the band mellowed out. Because if there's one thing this Danish five-piece does not do, it's mellow out! I'm talking 14 tracks of absolutely crushing material chock full of massively intense rhythmic surges, loads of caustic textures and high contrast tempo changes, punishing atmospheric dissonance, and some of the most over the top and venomous vocal screaming you'll ever encounter. The first handful of tracks actually blows by surprisingly quickly, as the much longer "Dark Halls Red Floors" (8:42) changes things up with some jangly, lightly distorted chords that eventually dive headfirst into one of the most chugging midpaced runs of the disc three minutes in - an approach which returns to a sparser degree towards the end of the song to keep the dynamics shifting fluidly. Meanwhile, "Som Soldater" injects a little more melody and energy into its constantly dissonant twists and turns, while another longer cut in "Desert Flower" makes a return to clean guitars during the intro - which is the most laidback moment of the disc at the time it arrives. Of course, again, nearly three minutes into it you're in for a completely sick wave of churning distortion and bitter vocal diatribes, so they never restrain themselves for long. That is, until the almost entirely instrumental 14-minute "Qualia" opens with its sparse ambient guitar textures and subtle electronic noises that hint at a frantic build before unexpectedly dropping black to mangled clean riffs and simple drum patterns - where the gradual rise to full blown distortion isn't complete until nearly eight minutes in! I could argue that the noisiness and sheer length of this track make it a nonessential inclusion as compared to how masterful some of the other material is, but I suppose it does change things up a bit prior to the three-part closer, "Note"; which kicks off with the energetic and memorable blasts of "Note 1 - Darling", which actually boast some of the finest moments of the disc. The entire affair was recorded live over the course of six days, but you'd never guess it from as good as it sounds. I don't know who recorded it, but this is the best sounding record to have ever come from Antfarm Studio, I can tell you that right now. Seriously, it sounds damn near perfect for what the band is doing. The mix is clear and lets each instrument hold its own space and textures but of course it's massively dense and cohesive as well. The drums are totally natural and bash away with uncompromising force, the bass pulses away right in the center of the mix, and then guitars and vocals do most of the dirtywork. The guitars are so fucking oppressive that I love it: Be it searing abrasive picking patterns and noisy riffing or monumentally crushing palm-muting rhythms or overbearing power chords, the guitar tone is one of the best I've ever heard for this niche of music. And the same goes for the vocals, as the texture and clarity perfectly accentuate the over the top intensity of the performance and highlight the more unique attributes of the guy's voice. Great, great work across the board there. The layout also looks awesome, printed entirely with a matte finish and using nothing but interesting sketches and handwritten text throughout. Admittedly this makes for a tricky read (I actually had to get the tracklist online as I had a hell of a time trying to get the correct titles off of the back cover), but the aesthetic value is totally worth it. Lyrics aren't really included, just little snippets here and there amidst the drawings, but you've gotta assume it ain't pretty, I mean... this shit's just too bleak and oppressive for anything less. The only "downfall" here, and I do mean only, is that the record is just entirely too long, so admittedly some of the more chaotic and frantic elements of the songwriting certainly wear you out as a result. I mean, 14 tracks is heavy-handed as it is, but when most of those tracks average four minutes and a handful top seven or more? Yeah, you're in for one marathon of a listening session. Just to put that in perspective, these guys could dump five songs and still have an hour-long full-length on their hands, so... that's definitely something for them to consider in the future in terms of maximizing the overwhelming power of their approach without brutalizing the listener to death, because I have to confess that there are a couple of songs herein that don't quite make the cut when held against massive powerhouses such as "Dark Halls Red Floors" (among others). But I can very sincerely and respectfully state that there is simply no fucking way that a band of this level of quality and ferocity could ever come from anywhere but Europe. Plain and simple. If you want fucking heavy, both literally and figuratively, this is it. This is fucking it. Seriously, this is one of those rare instances where all of the typical "skull-crushing", "paint-peeling", "face-ripping", "ear-shredding" analogies do indeed apply. That this band hasn't been scooped up or even so much as namedropped by anyone of prominence in the US yet (sans the awesome It's a Trap website, who turned me onto the band) is a damn fucking shame, so if you're into this kind of thing, don't sleep on these cats any longer. A striking album, for sure.
Running time - 72:07, Tracks: 14
[Notable tracks: For Us to See For Us to Help, Dark Halls Red Floors, Som Soldater, Desert Flower, Note 1 - Darling, Note 2 - I Lie, Note 3 - Conclusion]
The Psyke Project - http://www.thepsykeproject.dk