Among the mounds of death metal I consume on a monthly basis, Psychomancer actually have something to offer. Maybe it’s just my love for their groove riffs and slight modernisms that take the genre above the blandness of earlier iterations (come on guys, Possessed and even Death‘s earliest releases didn’t put me to sleep) of the genre which are now so cut and paste that they’re making my eyes heavy and aren’t really showcasing more than the same tempo and bpm that far too many albums are reveling in these days. I think that when you judge your band based on how fast your drumming is, you’ve missed the whole goddamned point. At least Psychomancer know when to switch it up, which is why I actually liked this album. There are some commonplace technical moments here and there, but their frontman actually has enough variation and emotion behind his vocal utterances that I’m actually entertained.
Oddly enough, I’m getting a Mushroomhead vibe in some instances (obviously only in reference to Xx and XIII) which makes me think of a much better Pitch Black Forecast (even Gene Hoglan couldn’t save that album) in lieu of musicianship and overall aggression. This disc is extremely aggressive and that’s what we need in this genre, I think. Everyone has become so goddamned PC, I think I read something about Devourment changing their lyrics because they might offend some woman listeners. Gentlemen, with a name like Devourment and the vore implications that I get just from hearing that name, I can’t help but laugh about this sort of thing. It makes a song like “MK-Ultra” seem even more relevant, even though my current belief there is that such a mind control exercise has evolved to the point that social media is a part of it. I’m not going to get into all that right now, but I do know that if I’m really pissed off and want to take it out on clown world in current year, I have an album where I can express that sort of emotion. Obviously, non-violently; as apparently a few gentlemen didn’t get the message and now we’re dealing with the implications of their behavior. Maybe this is the kind of music that those guys need to get out their frustration. When I was going through the abuse and torment of my teen and young adult years, I at least had music like this to get out my frustration.
In any case, Shards Of The Hourglass is a refreshing slice of death metal that is harbored in just enough groove that I can relate to it on a much better level than a vast majority of bands out there. Or maybe it’s just my love for groove. The vocals are also quite audible, which is something you don’t get much in this genre. I can actually discern each word to some, if not most of these songs and that says something. Gurgling is fun, don’t get me wrong – but if you do have something to say, it’s better with a more audible level of harsh vocal. Duston Bullard achieves that pretty well, bringing in both those bass grooves and a memorable vocal performance that I’ll consider noteworthy for years to come. I’m quite pleased with this one and it’s a solid performance. Just the kind of thing I might play in the background while I’m fragging (do we still even use that term anymore?) enemies on some modern retro FPS title. They are making a comeback and most of the soundtracks utilized in those games pale pretty much to actual death metal and variants. Trust me, I know – it sounds a hell of a lot better when you’re mowing down enemies to groove-laden death, and not those deathcore breakdowns that ya’ll keep using in meme videos. That has not and never will be death metal.
Psychomancer might be more of a death-groove, but they’ve still got more merit than half of the deathcore artists clogging up the internet today. If you stayed with me to read this whole review, then Shards Of The Hourglass might just be for you. It’s got those hard-hitting grooves that I always gush about and it kind of reminds me of the good Mushroomhead albums, but without the clean vocals and the blandness that Pitch Black Forecast demonstrated.
(10 Tracks, 57:00)