Black Metal Ladies beware, if you go for a walk without a chaperone through one of the silicon forests on Zygel 5 one sunlit night (as you do,) prepare yourself for the worst. You may be unfortunate enough to find lurking behind the trunk of one of those crystalline trees the vague floating form of a being comprised of the energy of freeform, Avantgarde Thrash. Quick these fellas, the first you will know about it will be mourning sickness, followed a few months later by the (double bass) kicking of tiny feet. Sure enough after nine months or so you may well bear a little Psykra.
This is Black Metal, but not as we know it. That really does not matter though because what we do have is a gloriously discordant collection of astral extreme Metal. This is the unholy union of latter-day MAYHEM with VOIVOD, perhaps with ABSU getting in on some sloppy seconds. You can imagine this as the preferred choice of Mr Metalhead, AD 2299. Thankfully those of us that will have pushed up a thousand generations of Daisies by then can revel in the experience here and now.
This is as far away as you can get from your Pagan/Forest Black Metal. It is experimental without resorting to annoying samples, the instruments tell it all. It’s all not-quite-right chord work and time changes that still retain a fluidity that ensures you a carried along on this cosmic ride. Subject matter is about decay and change on a personal and celestial scale and is futuristic on a million years ahead or in the past sense.
PSYKRA list numerous influences for their art from literature and music. The bands they cite are varied and not all sit in the extreme field. This fusion of inspirations shows because though the band remains cohesive throughout, they feel free to express themselves how they see fit. This means that the dynamics range wildly and to my eternal glee, predominantly at pace. There are plenty of slower sections that add twists and turns and even verge on the reflective without loosing any edge. This is all warped around a Black Metal core producing various isotopes of the same element.
Though there is nothing pleasant about “Terra II” there is plenty to engage, whether it be the vocal interplay on “Fortuna Influenza” or the “Tara” redolent riffing towards the end of “Horses Of Diomedes.” There is a deep space coldness about this album, but not an emptiness, it is as if PSYKRA have recognised that the cosmos is brimming with dark matter as well as the glowing stuff. This translates to an album chockfull of surging laser precision cutting tool Metal with more than a hint of disdainful menace.
I must mention the bass here, PSYKRA employ very effectively a jazz style of bass playing that suits the feel of the music perfectly. Included in this is the effect of playing lines much slower than the general rush of music presented and a much notable juxtaposition of harshness against the rounded tones of the four string. The jarring guitars constantly insinuate themselves into your head with insistent runs that are catchy without being easy on the ear. Often they possess that dissonant quality you associate with radio interference and present any listener with a challenge, albeit a rewarding one. The drum work follows the same ethos as the bass, sounding distinctly jazzy at all speeds apart from the most rapid sections.
PSYKRA have self produced this album and I have to say they have plenty to be proud of with “Terra II.” This places them firmly in the upper echelons of Avantgarde Black Metal. I would be surprised if this does not result in positive phone calls from interested parties. Do yourself a favour and listen to the sample tracks on their website. There you go then, available on an atom near you. (Online August 27, 2005)