Psycrence – A Frail Deception
Psycrence – A Frail Deception (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Greece has produced a few exceptional progressive metal albums over the past couple of years, and it’s nice to see another name jump out of a nation that seems to be a hotbed for creativity even while it suffers economical woes. Psycrence, a progject (sorry!) out of Athens, is the nation’s latest contender in the niche of melodic progressive metal, and sets off its career with quite a bang in A Frail Deception.
Psycrence’s prime directive seems to be mid-paced, chunky progressive metal that leans towards being highly digestible. While the music leans heavily upon the superb guitar leads of Kimon Zeliotis and Michael Kouropoulos in order to achieve staying power, it is extremely direct in its delivery, allowing just enough melodic repetition (for both guitars and vocals) for those of us “easily distracted” prog-heads to remain keenly focused.
Similar to bands like Threshold, Vanden Plas, and the recently featured Ascendancy, the singing on A Frail Deception is often quite mellow and, next to the hyperactive guitar, often rather subdued. Unlike the first two well-known names however, this is decidedly more of a guitar-addict’s album than one that is visited for its vocal hooks.
Maintaining a mildly somber, dusky-sounding atmosphere for most of its duration, A Frail Deception occasionally succumbs a bit to redundancy, with portions of various tracks lacking unmistakable identities during their instrumental portions and rhythmic verse riffing. However, that’s about as much flak as I can muster to fire at the album, since it’s a pretty consistently entertaining drift from song to song. Though guitar work is the order of the day, the smart keyboard support elevates a couple of these songs (most markedly opener “A Losing Game” and “Subconscious Eyes”) admirably, and I dearly wish that it was featured more prominently throughout the album, rather than simply in deft strokes here and there.
Psycrence has done a superb job with the often tired-sounding habit of soft intros that gradually crescendo (A full half of the songs here begin this way), but it’s when the band slaps me hard in the face that I properly sit up and take notice. I’m talking about the rapid intro to “Moral Decay” here: a song that boasts a sizzling lead, an excellent solo section, and boundless energy while still featuring a reigned-in, savory chorus. Another favorite is “Incised Path”, which I find to feature one of the most memorable vocal lines on the album.
Folks who enjoy restrained, moderate tempo prog with superior accessibility, and who don’t mind a band sticking fairly closely to the hammered-out formula for this type of prog should get pretty good mileage out of A Frail Deception. Those interested in something more adventurous, heavier, or more overtly technical prog would be better off scoping out other releases. For my tastes, Psycrence is a steady, enjoyable band with a clear twist of its own. A Frail Deception comes highly recommended, and my eyes will be on the horizon for this band’s next work.
3.75 // 5