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Having followed Psyopus' career since their debut release in 2004, 'Ideas of Reference', I've always had the utmost admiration for their experimentally unique brand of musically deranged, avant-garde metal. And so arrives third album, 'Odd Senses', which in the time since 2007's 'Our Puzzling Encounters Considered' has seen major personnel changes in the band's lineup, with only Christopher Arp (aka "Arpmandude") remaining from the original formation. However, it is Arp's genuinely progressive, inimitable guitar technique that largely defines Psyopus' sonically challenging discharge, and 'Odd Senses' is no exception. I'm sure many listeners new to the band will not get past the first few bars of music before screaming mercy for their ears, although those with a proclivity for the irrational in art and generally veer towards metal iconoclasm will lap this up in their masses. The highly accomplished, technical playing for which Arp is famed dominates each composition through unyielding intensity, although drummer Jason Bauers' percussive work is equally astonishing in its complexities. Bassist Michael Horn (who at the time of writing has since departed from the band) lends the songs further virtuoso technique and his stylistically wide playing range even incorporates elements of jazz-funk (such as on fifth track 'X and Y'). And not forgetting vocalist Brian Woodruff whose convincingly aggressive growled delivery adds further to the overall cacophony in each track. That is, of course, cacophony in an artistically palatable sense as the music exudes a whole array of unusual time signatures that would leave the likes of Meshuggah and Ephel Duath scratching their heads. There are even moments where certain songs are 'interrupted' with random voices which will no doubt frustrate some and disconcert others although, personally, I find it works well in the Psyopus aesthetic. For example, 'Boogeyman' is interposed with disjointed polyvocal statements as an array of voices speak one word each that together in sequence provide an ambiguously unsettling narrative, and 'Choker Chain' with its looped female voice sporadically interrupting the music with statements of almost insincere affection. Established Psyopus fans will also be pleased to note that 'Odd Senses' contains 'Imogen's Puzzle Pt 3' which continues the thematic of the previous two in what's perhaps best described as a reversed pastiche. 'A Murder To Child' wraps up the album which has overtones of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'A Lotus On Irish Streams' with its violin/clean guitar interplay, and works as an aural palette cleanser for the cacophony preceding it. However, that is before the random derangement of the 20+ minute untitled bonus track kicks in which ranges from bursts of idiomatic Psyopus music to an advert for the "kitty cat capsules"! Unparalleled in their experimental approach to metal, Psyopus are in a subgenre all by themselves, although it's a subgenre without parameters, as irrefutably proved with their latest offering. Breathtakingly deranged. Fucking awesome!
Metal Blade Records
Review by Mark Holmes
16th Feb 2009
1) 44
2) Medusa
3) The Burning Halo
4) Duct Tape Smile
5) X And Y
6) Boogeyman
7) Imogen's Puzzle Pt 3
8) Choker Chain
9) Ms Shyflower
10) A Murder To Child
11) Untitled Bonus Track
"'...those with a proclivity for the irrational in art and generally veer towards metal iconoclasm will lap this up in their masses."