In my youth, one of my favourite things when listening to new music was “strike points”. My version of strike point here refers not to the musicological term but rather a moment in time where expectations are simultaneously met, denied and exploded. It can be as simple as a particular note in a lyrical phrase, a time or key change or much more complex and macro as when the meaning of a composition which proved elusive suddenly appears to be clear. One of my earliest strike points was watching Les Claypool whack his bass percussively to producing no melodic content but adding to the polyrhythmic lurch of “My Name is Mud”. Another were the natural harmonic notes picked between a detuned open E and its second on Machine Heads “Davidian”, or the double tap staccato snares that sound just after the phrase “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast” sounding just like a pump action being primed before discharging, in this case into a groovy half time mosh out. In fact Burn My Eyes held multiple strike points for a boy raised on meat and potatoes metal, the lurching 6/8 rhythm of “Block” or the Oakland speed thrash insanity of “Blood for Blood”. Strike points are not unlike an affirmation of what you already know but have yet to hear, moments in which concepts and musicological hopes are ripped up out of the unconscious and explicated.
Psycroptic’s latest album, Inherited Repression, gifted me a number of strike points as I blasted it in the car the other morning. Less than midway into the first track there comes a melo-tech-death anti-melodic run that slides over the rhythm evoking a gnarly combination of Middle-Eastern and 8-bit video game tonal sensibilities. The rest of the album does not disappoint. Perhaps the biggest strike point on Repression is that as a tech-death album it favours songs with technicality over technicality with songs bolted on.
Repression is somewhat streamlined compared to its predecessors and song structures are brought into the foreground. Because of this there is somewhat more repetition of rhythmic and melodic ideas, but rather than sounding repetitive they contribute to a more cohesive, listenable sound. Even so, there is enough progression within the various ideas they are just not as extreme in their juxtaposition against each other. Psycroptic manage a brilliant balance between prog, heavy and accessibility and successfully beckon the listener back for repeated engagement.
Let me invoke a tr00-er than thou, elitist, kvltist, br00tal-est nerdrage tempest: Repression is absolutely fucking groovy. Tantrums will be thrown, tears shed and pointless blood will be spilt across the landscape of the Metal Archives, but I say fuck ‘em. Repression, with its taut guitar sound, relentless rhythms, multi-meters, deranged yet melodic harmonies and groovy post-re-thrash swagger like a royal rumble between Anata, latter day Death, Obscura, Meshuggah, Slayer and Pantera (sound the nerdrage alarums!). Strike me down, Repression is rad. Now if only they would put it out on vinyl. Sigh.