-- PSYCHONAUT --
|■||Stefan De Graef||Vocals, guitar|
|■||Thomas Michiels||Vocals, bass|
|■||Peter Le Page||Drums|
Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.
[METAL SHREDDER REPORTING]
In spring 2016 I attended the Metaaldetector event in Geraardsbergen (organized by the local youth bar the Ressort). The co-headliner of that event was the psychedelic post-metal band PSYCHONAUT. I had a great time beholding their mesmerizing performance and I shredded them that night as well (read that vintage shred: http://belgianmetalshredder.be/interviews/40). And now, 4 years later, their PR man David contacted me personally to check out the band’s long-awaited debut album. Let’s settle the score!
“Unfold the God Man” is the debut album from the Mechelen based post-metal act PSYCHONAUT and is released through German record label Pelagic Records. Before this album, the band had released two EPs, “24 Trips Around the Sun” (2014) and “Ferocious Fellowman” (2016).
“Unfold the God Man” kicks off greatly with the highly melodic instrumental tune “All I Saw as a Huge Monkey,” featuring a continuous series of fast, technical guitar solos and bombastic melodies. Things turn significantly heavier with the next track, “The Story of Your Enslavement,” introducing vocalists Stefan & Thomas who deliver screams and clean vocals (the latter reminding me a lot of the late Layne Staley from Alice In Chains) and the whole thing ends with a surprisingly catchy guitar riff. Next up is “Kabbudah” a song that starts peacefully but gradually gets more layered and heavier until the song ends in a barrage of thunderous guitars and unrelenting yells.
The next two tracks, “The Fall of Consciousness” and “Sananda,” put PSYCHONAUT’s psychedelic post-metal side much more forward, both being 9-minute long tracks wherein slow, meditative melodies and gentle vocals get intertwined with heavy beats and screams and topped off with sweet guitar solos. “Celestial Dictator” goes back to the style of earlier songs like the previous “Enslavement” track with faster rhythms and harder riffs but the opening tribal chants and drums were quite hypnotizing. “Halls of Amenti” is another similarly hard-hitting tune.
The album’s penultimate track, “Nexus” starts off with echoing chants before gentle drum beats and tickling guitars take over and eventually explode by the end. And then comes the album’s 16-minute long finale “Nothing Is Consciousless,” an excellent summary of all the earlier PSYCHONAUT ingredients and even a fun saxophone tune to wrap it all up.
The front cover shows the face and upper torso of a man carved in rock and surrounded by a cube grid. I must say that the artwork is surprisingly colorful, especially for a post-metal album. The silver-colored grid that surrounds the ancient sculpture gives this otherwise prehistoric image a unique sci-fi touch. But I’m most curious to know whether this image is a photograph of a real-life rock carving or some original drawing. And if the former were to be true, then this means that post-metal is much more prehistoric than we all were meant to believe.
[SHARPEST SHREDS & BLUNTEST BLADES]
As is often the case when I’m shredding a great album, I’ve once again got several favorites! I love the Alice in Chains like feel of “The Story of Your Enslavement,” the beautiful musical journey that is “Sananda” and the epic finale “Nothing Is Consciousless.” Extra props to that last track because it’s not easy to keep me engaged for such long tracks, especially when they’re over 15 minutes long. But PSYCHONAUT did achieve it thanks to the huge variety in intensity, the duets between the clean and scream vocals, the catchy beats, the song’s overall tight pacing, that fun little saxophone part and the moody ending. So yeah, the song’s got a lot going for it during its extensive runtime.
The overall quality on “Unfold the God Man” remains consistent throughout, but I hope for the next album they’ll be making a full track similar to the hypnotizing first part of “Celestial Dictator.” I really enjoyed the simple setting of tribal percussion combined with the mysterious chants, very atmospheric and by far the most bizarre and psychedelic part of the entire release.
8,5 caveman carvings out of 10. Back in 2016 PSYCHONAUT was one of the first post-metal bands I’ve ever laid my ears on and it’s great to see how the band has evolved since then. Their “Unfold the God Man” debut album features all the usual post-metal complexity along with plenty of alternative and psychedelic metal traits. If you enjoy bands like Pink Floyd, Tool or my country’s very own Amenra, then you can certainly add PSYCHONAUT to your post-list! Now let them tell you “The Story Of Your Enslavement.”