Psyclon Nine - Less To Heaven
Released 2022 by Metropolis Records
It has been quite some time since we last poked around Psyclon Nine in full; the once aggrotech and now full-on industrial metal project has received copious amounts of praise and controversies since then. 2013 was last when we reviewed their album “[Order of the Shadow : Act I]” which received a very well-deserved perfect score of 10 out of 10. A bit of a hiatus occurred for the next five years as founder Nero Bellum focused on his dark ambient, noise, and general soundtrack solo project (which has amassed quite a sweet collection of sample libraries, for those musicians out there). Admittedly, Psyclon Nine did release an album in 2018 titled “Icon of the Adversary” but I never had the chance to finish a review for that one. But here we are in 2022 with Psyclon Nine’s brand-new album “Less to Heaven”.
‘BLOOD IN’ begins the album and it is a bit of a bore. I believe that Bellum took lessons from his solo project to craft this opening track; a haunting dark ambient track complete with piano. But whereas with “[Order of the Shadow : Act I]” we were given small snippets of tense, instrumental pieces that supplemented the theme of the album (such as with ‘[Act : I] Consecration’ or even going to “We The Fallen” with ‘Of Decay (An Exit)’, listening to ‘BLOOD IN’ for three-minutes and eighteen-seconds isn’t quite as fantastical as you might expect. It’s all a continual build-up with no pay-off. While the sound design is good, it could have easily been stripped down to one to one-and-a-half minutes without suffering a loss.
Once we get into the bulk of the album, however, things do start to look up. Aesthetically speaking, there’s hardly a maturity to be found on “Less to Heaven”. Psyclon Nine has found an audience and either wants to bask in their presence or they just have to stick with what they’re known for. So, yes, often times I rolled my eyes at tracks titled such as ‘MONEY AND SEX AND DEATH’ or even “SEE YOU ALL IN HELL”. The anti-Christian message is still alive and well and it’s one that has never gone away since their debut “Divine Infekt”. Despite Psyclon Nine lacking a certain finesse, their music is still pretty damned good.
‘SEE YOU ALL IN HELL’ is a beautiful but harsh mixture of harsh industrial percussion and black metal guitars swooning in gritty background textures. I really appreciated the cleaner whispered vocals and found Bellum’s trademark screeching / goblin voice to be out of place in the song. I’ll say this once in the review and not once more; I do believe a degree of evolution is required in vocal presentation for Psyclon Nine to better fit the mold they’re trying to fill, at least on the screeching part.
‘MONEY AND SEX AND DEATH’ comes in next and it’s another brutal combination of blazing guitars and industrial percussion. During the chorus we get practically of wall of non-stop corruption. Yet during the verse there’s time for an instrumental pause. Like a heartbeat, the drums come in staggered but in rhythm keeping up a certain amount of tension before the chorus rolls back in.
The introductory notes of ‘THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN’ had me a little confused, as the opening electronic dribble reminded me of something that would play right before a hardcore rave track would start. As we know, however, this is not a rave album. Nonetheless ‘THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN’ is perhaps one of my favorite tracks on the album. I love good, slamming, thumping drums that make my heart skip a beat when I blast it in my car, and that’s exactly what this song did for me. Some of the background textures turn into echoed screams, which made me believe that this song reflects someone’s personal torture or pain.
‘OFF WITH THEIR HEADS’ definitely takes influence from the darksynth field; as your residential fan of the genre for consistently keeping up dark, club beats, Psyclon Nine was definitely aiming to create a club track fit for that infamous night club scene from Blade. Orchestral background textures lit up the track and there’s a certain air of confidence throughout the song. Psyclon Nine does opt in for whispered vocals this time, but they are way, way too low and I felt as if I were straining my ears to hear what was done throughout the song. A bit of an increase in sound would have been nice.
‘X’S ON HER EYES’ eerily reminded me of ‘Suicide Note Lullaby’ from “We The Fallen”. It’s primarily an acoustic track that, later in the song, transforms right into an industrial metal blast. Similar format and everything just more focused on the metal part. Equally dreary and depressing, yet angry at the same time.
My opinion on the last three songs on ‘Less to Heaven’ are mediocre at best. Each one of the tracks caters to dark ambient, drone, experimental, or soundtrack music that Nero Bellum has been experimenting with in his side-project. ‘CATASTROPHIC’ has Bellum opt in with spoken word, slightly sung vocals that don’t sound all that great especially since there’s a sound effect placed on them that make his voice sound rawer than they should be. ‘APRÉS MOI LE DÉLUGE’ takes a stab at a drone-based, electro-acoustic sound. It doesn’t sound bad, and sections of it are pretty, but it’s hard for me to recommend this considering there are other giants within the drone scene that eclipse Psyclon Nine. Lastly, we get into ‘BLOOD OUT’, which commits a cardinal sin of letting the song slowly die for the final minute with nothing but spatial noise – which is both boring and unnecessary.
When I hit the last three songs on the album is where I see a downward trend. What we’re looking at is less of a Psyclon Nine album and more of a crossover between Nero Bellum’s side-project and Psyclon Nine. Which is fine if that’s the direction that the band wants to head in, but that also means that there is going to be a hell of a lot more fluff going forward. While many of the songs work wonders by blending hard and harsh music with ominous ambiance (basically track two to track six), when Psyclon Nine goes on a bender and tries to be an experimental project do they hit a middle ground that is neither impressive nor awful. Just average and nothing out of the ordinary.
And to further my words and to give an example, should Psyclon Nine have released tracks two to six as a standalone EP (that is ‘SEE YOU ALL IN HELL’, ‘MONEY SEX AND DEATH’, ‘THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN’, ‘OFF WITH THEIR HEADS’, and ‘X’S ON HER EYES’), I would have no problem scoring it between a seven-and-a-half to an eight – which is pretty damned good in my book. But, since ‘BLOOD IN’, ‘CATASTROPHIC’, ‘APRÉS MOI LE DÉLUGE’, and ‘BLOOD OUT’ take up almost half the listening time on ‘Less to Heaven’, it severely impacts my outlook on the album. Thus ‘Less to Heaven’ is awarded a six-and-a-half out of ten.Aug 20 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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Psyclon Nine - We The Fallen is available at POPONAUT from 13,95€