PSYCROPTIC’s “The Scepter Of The Ancients” album has become one of the most praised Death Metal albums of the 2000s, joining the ranks of DEICIDE’s “The Stench Of Redemption” and NILE’s “Black Seeds Of Vengeance”, with the Tasmanians also joining the latter band on Nuclear Blast Records. I must admit that the idea of said label signing a full-on brutal Death Metal band did seem a tad odd to me but fortunately the band’s jump up to the big leagues did not result in a loss of what made them great in the first place – that being balls-out brutality with a hefty dose of technicality sprinkled on top. Unfortunately, though, neither did it lead to any significant improvements in their sound.
Look, “Ob(Servant)” is not a bad effort by any stretch but neither did it strike me as something really special. It is simply a good album, nothing more. Technically speaking the band is in fine fettle, their riffs carrying just the right balance between old school grit and a more contemporary slickness, while the drummer throws in as many fills and off-kilter beats as is humanly possible. It’s brutal as expected but with a Math-like technical bent that is very much in the vein of works by MESHUGGAH and ACT OF GODS. The latter band’s slithering riffing style is also quite similar to what guitarist Joe Hayley does on tracks like “Slaves Of Nil” and the title track, where the riffs thrashes the one moment and grooves relentlessly the next. CANNIBAL CORPSE also seems to be a big influence on the sound, while the subtle melodic strains of a track like “A Calculated Effort” reminds me of the sound ABORTED went for on their latest outing. “Ob(Servant)” really is a melting pot of sorts for all the various schools of Death Metal, and I have no doubt in my kind that had a better vocalist helmed the microphone this album would’ve been absolutely blistering. The production is top notch (except for the excessively click-y sound of the double bass drums), the riffs are hyperactive, and the drumming is constantly engaging; only the nondescript vocal approach brings it down.
Fans of both straightforward old school Death Metal as well more contemporary/technical fare like NECROPHAGIST or the aforementioned MESHUGGAH will be delighted by this effort, as these Aussies pretty much cover all the requisite Death Metal bases with consummate ease. Yet for all the cerebral nuances that courses through these nine tracks I find myself a little disappointed by the fact that they didn’t push their sound a little more. A masterpiece this is not but along with KRISIUN’s “Southern Storm” it is still one of the better Death Metal albums of the year.
(Online October 5, 2008)