Psychostick - Do - (10/10)
Published on September 26, 2018
Genre:Groove / Nu-Metal / Hardcore
They use a reverse throttle!
‘Underrated’ is an adjective carelessly tossed around in critical circles. I will happily take back every time I exaggeratedly used it and apply all that word-power to Psychostick (or is it ‘As The Psycho Begins To Stick?’). Never before have I seen such a talented group of guys – clearly masters of their craft (even if that craft is being dumb) – be covered so little in the metal press community. Now on their 5th full-length album, the Arizonan ‘humorcore’ geniuses have musically outdone many of their contemporaries. The brilliantly-titled Do is a sonically demanding work, with the added bonus of being laugh-out-loud hilarious. Whereas I would recommend 2011’s Space Vampires… to newcomers, Do stretches the band’s heaviness, joke-telling, skit-writing and songwriting to levels that will serve longtime fans very well indeed. Unlike the majority of bands who claim to weave comedy into their music, Psychostick actually make the fusion appear seamless. Both the comedy and metal aspects serve each other, instead of being intrusive.
“We Are A Band” is the perfect opener, dropping the listener right into a familiar goofy vibe (Rob hanging up his phone and growling ‘WHERE WAS IIIII?’ is hilarious) but proudly displaying the Stick’s newfound detuned guitar tone (previously made fun of on 2014’s ‘So Heavy’). The addition of symphonic keyboards and an almost deathcore-style rhythm is both refreshing and easy to poke fun at. Said chunkiness continues on “You Can (Maybe) Do It”, which displays Josh’s most vicious riffage yet, and one of the best jokes on the album: ‘When I get knocked down, I get up…set about it!’. Anyone missing their trademark twangy-bass groove will not be disappointed; Matty’s work at the lower end is his best yet, especially on the semi-ballad “From The Heart”. I say ‘semi’ ballad because of the lyrics but, creative profanity aside, this track has such a complex time signature that even Meshuggah would struggle. I still can’t work it out, yet Psychostick make it sound effortless and natural! Rob’s voice is also maturing nicely. Sure, he can’t scream wholly like on their debut, but his comic timing and charmisma are unmatched.
Lyrically, Do has its fair share of good-natured nonsense (“Bacon, Egg & Cheese On Toast W/Sriracha” anyone?) which is the stuff thrash bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Deliverance used to attempt except…y’know…good. But the overarching theme of the CD is that of apathy and poor life skills. Tracks like “Adulting”, “Uncle Material” and “Introvert Party Time” tap into that part of us that relates with the desire to give up whilst simultaneously poking fun in the best way possible. I especially relate to ‘I’ll buy you a beer! You want original piss or piss-lite?’ and ‘let’s go out to a dance club, pay $30 to drink and flop around!’. On the flipside, the semi-serious topics covered on this record actually carry some emotional weight to them. The dramatic conclusion to “Stream Stutter” is theatrical in a way 2014’s “Blue Screen” didn’t quite manage, and “Rent In Peace” undoubtedly hits many of us right in the feels. The less-than-subtle nod to Metallica in this song is pure gold! Seriously, just check it out – you’ll know what I mean.
The one-off moments of silliness break up the theme of the album satisfactorily, whilst providing amusing punchlines of their own. “Uhhhnngg” and “Gurrrrrr” are perfect pastiches of those shit concerts we’ve all been to; “Tuesday” is a genuinely laugh-out-loud ode to mediocrity; “Keys” is one perfectly timed joke that fuses grindcore with reggae, and the “Got No Brakes” running gag is probably the funniest thing Psychostick have ever recorded (I still crease when Alex shouts ‘DRUM SOLOOOOOO!!’). The definite highlight of Do has to be the 6+ minute “Moving Day”. Starting off reminiscent of Anthrax’s “Keep It In The Family”, it switches time signatures and moods, effectively recreating the epic task of helping a friend move house, climaxing in a death metal breakdown of aggressive hilarity. I ran the risk of being over-zealous in this review because I love this band so much. However, objectively, this is their best work to date, and nails its intention 100% perfectly. Do is technically proficient, hysterically funny, and heavier than President Rhino. Acknowledge the dumb, and give in to the Stick!
…and duh, of course they did outtakes!