It is very difficult these days to find anything interesting in Death Metal these days as the majority of bands either try too hard to be new, exciting and interesting that they lose the whole point and feel of the music or they simply copy their respective influences and don't do as good as job as what we already have. Australian Death Metal band PSYCROPTIC however have unleashed their second full length offering "The Scepter Of The Ancients" and it is jam packed full of amazing musicianship, jaw dropping riffing, fantastically varied vocal work and influences from all spectrums of Death Metal. From sheer brutality to overly technical and even some quite fantastic Thrash and Melodic Death Metal riffing thrown in for good measure "The Scepter Of The Ancients" has it all.
The album utilises fantastic guitar riffing from melodic leads and riffs to crushingly heavy slow sections to start stop tech Death Metal genius. What is amazing about this and the drum work is how well it works together. PSYCROPTIC are easily one of the "tightest" sounding bands I have ever heard. Not one note off time and the guitars ride PERFECTLY over the double bass drumming. Vocally as well this band is no less impressive as their vocalist has about six different styles of Death Metal vocal, from the low end guttural growls and Grindcore shrieks with mid range, aggressive and thrashy influences and sections. It is very rare for a Death Metal band to find a vocalist as emotively convincing in the delivery of the lyrics. Very impressive.
This album however is not without criticism as for me the clean and crisp production although impressive lacks a lot of definition in the lower end and the added bass would have helped to beef up the weight of the crushing riffs. This would have made the album even more effective and powerful. Another problem I found is that although the album begins and ends almost perfectly there is a dip in quality just before the middle as the compositions although extremely varied are sometimes too similar to each other.
"The Colour Of Sleep", "Psycrology" and "Cruel Incarnate" would be my picks from this album. "Psycrology" opens with an interesting clean intro before leading into a fantastic almost DARK TRANQUILLITY paced section which in turns flows into fantastic tech Death Metal full of great hooks and excellent memorable riffing. "Cruel Incarnate" blasts off with a typically impressive heavy riff which could be found anywhere from ICED EARTH to CRYPTOPSY and instantly captures your imagination. There is fantastic use of tempo change and start stop riffing in this great track.
In conclusion I think I can safely say that this is easy one of the best Death Metal albums of 2003 and should be in every fan's collection. Even the weaker parts of this album destroy the best parts by most bands and I can only hope that this band will continue to release quality material like this. Excellent. (Online December 30, 2003)