Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review: Psyclon Nine – 'Order Of The Shadow: Act I'

'Order Of The Shadow: Act I' 

Following the band's last outing, Psyclon Nine went on a four year hiatus, while seemingly on top of their game. Now the time has come for Nero and co. to reactivate the name that has become synonymous with industrial black metal crossover thanks to club hits such as 'Parasitic', 'Crwn Thy Frnicatr' and 'We The Fallen'. But with a score of fans anticipating a reinvigorated and re-focussed Psyclon Nine, will their latest offering, 'Order Of The Shadow: Act I', live up to expectations?

Thankfully it does. The album picks up where 'We The Fallen' left off. Although it immediately feels much tighter and fresher. 'Order Of The Shadow: Act I' comes across as a personal exorcism by way of a violent decompression evident in the short intro '[Act I] Consecration'. 'Shadows Unveiled' unleashes a typically Psyclon-esque bombardment of heavy riffs and sickeningly distorted synths with Nero's distinctly demonic hiss slithering throughout. It is evidently Psyclon Nine, but it feels so much more dynamic and streamlined than previous outings.

The band change things up once again with tracks like 'Suffer Well', 'Use Once And Destroy', 'Order Of The Shadow [The Heretic Awakened]' and 'Take My Hand While I Take My Life' showing that their mid-tempo club appeal is still central to their doctrine. Whereas their heavier side is effectively encompassed by cuts such as 'Glamour Through Debris' and 'Afferte Mihi Mortem' which deliver the heaviness for the live circuit. While the sumptuous finale 'The Saint And The Valentine' is a guaranteed set closer if ever there was one in the band's arsenal.

The album is punctuated by several short instrumentals. These may amount to filler for some, but they do break the album into digestible chapters and give the track list a more narrative feel. While the production has been given the care and attention it deserves so that the band never quite descend into the maelstrom of noise the constantly skirt around.

'Order Of The Shadow: Act I' is bleak and heavy. But the song writing still maintains the band's subtle sense of groove and the construction of the album builds to a satisfying climax. Hopefully this strong step will prove to be a fresh start on the band's true path. Long-time fans will no doubt feel vindicated with this release, and it should prove an easy way in for a horde of new listeners.

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