Psychosomatic – The Invisible Prison Review

It feels like only yesterday when you all hated me for giving such high praise to Crisix‘s 2018 release, Against the Odds. I understand that everyone thinks Power Trip is god1 and everyone is getting tired of the Havok/Warbringer sound2, so thrash is getting more and more difficult to get into these days. Thrash, with a modern touch, is even harder as it all seems to sound rehashed and repetitive.3 I’m not sorry I love the fun and upbeat character of Crisix. I’m not sorry “Perseverance” and “Xenomorph Blood” make me lose my shit. I’m not sorry Against the Odds made my list that year. I’m not sorry for my love of thrash. I’m not sorry for having such an exquisite taste. I’m not sorry for anything. OK… I am sorry you’re so dead inside that you can’t enjoy fun things. I’m also sorry for this: thrash veterans Psychosomatic and their newest release, The Invisible Prison.

Since 1988, Sacramento’s Psychosomatic have been playing a grind-like take on thrash. Not so much in style, but in song and album length. Their 1999 debut LP, Tales of the Unbelievably Cheap, is their simplest; swooping in with twelve tracks and an eighteen-minute runtime. And 2010’s Another Disease is their most bloated—eighteen tracks in forty-five minutes. But really, Psychosomatic combines D.R.I.‘s punkish qualities with some old-school California greats, like Exodus and Metallica. And, to be honest, most of their albums fucking slay. And to make things even more relevant, Psychosomatic has done well to modernize their sound with the occasional use of the crossover style made popular these days by Power Trip.

The band even started introducing longer songs that stand alone, rather than transitioning from one-to-another as one, seamless song. Hints of this transition began with Another Disease and manifested further in 2015’s Clicking Sound of a Hammer Pulled Back. There’s even the inclusion of Ghoulish barks and a death/thrash attitude that reminds me of Pig Destroyer‘s Head Cage. To no one’s surprise, The Invisible Prison uses these same elements. Not only does this twelve-song platter have the longest runtimes (two-to-four minutes per track) of any of the band’s releases but songs like the back-to-back “Labyrinth” and “Fortune Dealer” combine thrashing, full-band choruses with Ghoulish barks and shrieks. The former, like opener “We Don’t Trust You,” has gang shouts that demand audience participation. But the latter is creepy and slithering, taking ownership of being the album’s black sheep.

Unfortunately, none of these songs are highlights of the record. Most are rather simple and run-of-the-mill. For my buck, the Exodus-meets-Metallica riffage of “Personality Agenda” is a Psychosomatic keeper. It’s a fun piece with a nonstop charge and fist-pumping gang shouts. Its predecessor (“Pandora’s Crate”) also has fun addictive licks. But, this time, I can’t help but imagine old Celtic Frost with modern guitar effects riffing this one out. The plod has that CF thrash sound and the vocals monotonously shriek Tom Warrior.

But, after listening to The Invisible Prison a kajillion times, it doesn’t grab my attention like Another Disease or Clicking Sound of a Hammer Pulled Back. There’re gems (as mentioned before), as well as the clever death/thrash closer “Spiral Orthodox,” the Kill ‘Em All-inspired “Schizophrene,” and the Sadusy “Highbinder.” But the album lacks repeatability. It’s one of those albums that I find myself skipping around to get to the better tracks after a few listens. That said, if you’re a thrasher and have never heard of this band, they’re worth checking out. But I wouldn’t start here.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nefarious Industries | Bandcamp
Websites: psychosomatic.bandcamp.com | officialpsychosomatic.com | facebook.com/officialpsychosomatic
Releases Worldwide: August 28th, 2020

Show 3 footnotes

  1. RIP Riley Gale.
  2. OK, I may be alone there.
  3. After all, not everyone can be War Curse.
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