Inside the Unreal, the 1993 debut from Italian band Electrocution, was an underrated and obscure gem released during death metal’s golden age, but never quite gaining wider recognition beyond cult status. I picked up a reissue of the album a number of years ago and found it to be a curious slab of old school, Floridian-inspired death, hardly game-changing stuff but a solid relic from an inspired era for the genre. Lo and behold, Electrocution emerged from a lengthy hibernation to drop their 2014 comeback album Metaphysincarnation, recharging the batteries for contemporary times. The album was a solid update from their early roots, taking a darker, more technical turn while boasting a cleaner modern sound. Despite being impressed by Metaphysincarnation at the time, I admit to rarely revisiting the album during the past five or so years. Yet my curiosity about another Electrocution album spiked when I spotted Psychonolatry in the promo dump. Coming off a monumental year of deathly delights, can the old dogs muster a mean enough bark for their gestating third LP?
Psychonolatry feels like a safe and solid extension of their original comeback album, armed with a sound that still owes a debt to the magical era in which the band’s unsung debut was spawned, albeit bolstered by modern production and impressive technical skill. A significant line-up shift hasn’t deterred the band from their mission and cemented style of old school death, which includes two new guitarists and a bass player joining the fold to accompany drummer Vellacifer and founding member/he of the menacing growl, Mick Montaguti. Psychonolatry is a bludgeoning force of frenzied speed, no-holds-barred aggression, and uppercutting groove, delivered with technical expertise and youthful exuberance. Nothing overly flashy or original, but certainly effective. Lead-off track “Psychonolatry (The Icons of God and the Mirror of the Souls)” cuts to the chase with cutthroat purpose and no-frills aggro, laying down a solid template for what is to follow.
Burly, thrashy death is the order of the day and Electrocution stick to their guns. Solid riffs, relentlessly pounding percussion, and Montaguti’s distinctive vocals lead the way through each dense and pummeling cut. Certain songs hit with fiercer impact than others, a problem that damages the album overall, though generally speaking Electrocution don’t drop the ball or deviate from the program. Which is probably a good thing, as I couldn’t imagine the band dabbling too deeply into experimental waters. “Bulåggna” features a powerful opening, relying on brute strength, dark atmospheric melodies and a bruising mid-paced crush before unleashing torrents of thrashy aggression. Similarly, “Of Blood and Flesh” showcases Electrocution at their heavy, fast, and unhinged best. If only the rest of the album could live up to the higher standards of the stronger material here, Psychonolatry would have been a more essential, rather than merely solid listen.
Individual performances are impressively tight and technical without being showy. The guitar work is a particular standout, including a number of memorably ripping solos, shadowy atmospheric embellishments, and swift melodic counterpoints to their hack and slash death riffs. Hearing a decent bass presence is another plus, though the crushed mastering job limits the impact. The album concludes with a sharp but somewhat unnecessary re-recording of Inside the Unreal‘s punishing opening salvo, “Premature Burial.” Album length and blurring between some of the songs holds Psychonolatry back. And the lack of structural variation makes the album feel longer than its already decent 44-minute length. Ideally, this sucker should have been trimmed for greater potency and replay value. Meanwhile, the beefy production is clear, loud, and abrasive, and although the instruments feature appropriately beefy, modern tones, I’ve found it to be quite an ear fatiguing listen across the album’s duration.
When all is said and done, Electrocution have once again punched above their underrated status in crafting another solid slab of old school brutality. Psychonolatry features enough modern embellishments and vigorous playing to keep the album afloat, despite falling short of loftier honors. As such, Psychonolatry is unlikely to blow anyone away but should appease fans of rugged old school death and avid followers of the sporadic cult legacy of these grizzled and reliably solid Italian warriors.