Psy:code – Persona Review

When it comes to band discovery, we all hope to enjoy what we find. This goes double when the band deals in music we normally don’t like. For me, I generally dislike industrial. While the clunky machinations that usually characterize the genre should appeal to me, the end result is often tepid and monotonous. Last year saw the first industrial record that I genuinely loved by Ascend the Hollow, and since then I’ve wondered why nobody else could seem to put together anything remotely as adventurous as that. When I saw Dutch quintet Psy:code‘s fourth record Persona in the promo bin listed under “Industrial,” I thought I would give it a chance. Who knows, maybe if I roll the dice one more time I could land another win?

Snake eyes. Psy:code deal in a heavily atmospheric subset of industrial metal. Downtuned guitars crush skulls while ethereal synths attempt to revive the crushed, and for the most part, the contrast works to the band’s favor. It’s nothing new, of course, but it’s easy to pick out of a lineup, at least. Riffs chug satisfactorily and the drums pound with a suitable heft. The vocals, however, are a mixed bag. On one hand, we get harsh vocals that sound like a middle ground between black metal and death metal; on the other, crooning cleans that remind me of Staind without the whine, and delicate falsettos that recall nineties indie rock. Unfortunately, off-key half-screams fill the ample space in between, injecting KornFueled nightmares directly into my Mudvaynes.

Thus begins the slew of questionable decisions comprising the bulk of Persona. The worst of the bunch is “Aldrig.” Dear heavens above, may the forces of the universe grant those with working ears mercy in thine light. Whoever the vocalist is (names were not provided and not readily available via search) needs to take 40-45% off ‘er before he gives himself serious nodules. He possesses a wide range of styles to play with, and most of them work. “Aldgrig” is the prime example of when he strains too far to hit notes beyond his limitations. When the vocals do work, though, other problems persist in songwriting. The record is 45 minutes long, but the tracklist features one tempo, one grouping of notes, a singular riff broken up in slightly different ways, and songs that feel less than half-baked. As a result, Persona feels like a much longer affair and lacks any kind of engagement as a whole.

Individual songs show that the band has potential, however. Notable examples include “Deranged,” “Breathing Fire,” and “Demons Guide My Way.” In the first example, the main riffs bend and sway with a similar swagger to Koi No Yokan Deftones, which works well and adds personality to the track. “Breathing Fire” is similar but boasts superior craftsmanship, marking the one and only time I had real fun with Psy:code. “Demons Guide My Way” interests me because even though individual elements appear dull or tepid, together they form the most memorable and well-conceived song, all thanks to one line in the chorus (“I’m faaaaaaaddding aaawaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy”) that spliced itself all too easily into my brain. If Psy:code harnesses that ineffable power which a single melody wields over the entirety of a song, their future surely holds greater success.

Until then, I advise avoiding Persona. Already four albums in, Psy:code regretfully falls short of those qualifications requisite for recommendation. Between atrocious vocal abominations—especially taking into account the fact that in every other vocal approach the band holds their own just fine—and spineless songwriting, the band’s latest record is a perfect exhibit of everything I normally dislike about the industrial metal scene. The sound should work for me across the board, and yet countless groups can’t seem to pen a proper record around it. Psy:code is no different.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: psycode.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/psycodedk
Releases Worldwide: May 1st, 2020

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