Ob(Servant) by Psycroptic
Release date : September 2008
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
Upon returning from a brief Australian tour, Hobart, Tasmania's Psycroptic revealed the fact that the group had begun writing material in support of a fourth studio album. Late 2007 recording was aimed towards, with a tentative issue date of 2008's spring. However, this wasn't met. On March 23rd, 2008 at the Manning Bar in Sydney, Australia, Psycroptic performed at the Metalstock 2008 festival. That same month, David Haley had recorded his drum contributions at Red Planet Studios. At the Crawl Space from April to May, guitar and bass parts were laid down by Joe Haley and Cameron Grant respectively. In May, Jason Peppiatt's vocals were cut at Red Planet. Joe Haley spearheaded engineering, not to mention production in collaboration with Psycroptic. Meanwhile, mixing and mastering was handled by guitarist Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head / ex-Soulfly) during June.
In mid June, Psycroptic revealed the fact they had inked a worldwide record contract with Nuclear Blast Records. Paired against The Black Dahlia Murder, Kataklysm, Vader, Cryptopsy, The Faceless, Despised Icon, Aborted, Born of Osiris, and Whitechapel, the group toured as part of the Summer Slaughter across North America. Beginning June 20th at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, the tour came to a conclusion on July 28th at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois. During mid July, the title of Psycroptic's fourth album was revealed to be Ob(Servant). Additionally, the record's artwork was unveiled. The cover artwork was designed by Raymond Swanland, who's previously worked with Deeds of Flesh. A bonus DVD boasts a studio diary, as well as performance footage lifted from a 2006 Amsterdam, Netherlands gig and a 2008 Wellington, New Zealand concert. In mid August, the track “Immortal Army of One” was made available for streaming via Psycroptic's official MySpace page, and the title cut followed in mid September.
Musically distinct, Ob(Servant) doesn't happen to feature clichéd ingredients. The album's title cut inaugurates, and spans just shy of three and a half minutes in length. Albeit Ob(Servant)'s shortest tune, Psycroptic require scarce seconds to exhibit the group's chosen Extreme Metal stylings. Exploiting straightforward Thrash / Death Metal during its opening notes, the title number features a wide array of vocal approaches from Jason Peppiatt, whether it be Hardcore shouts, or Death growls. Drummer Dave Haley maintains a frenzied pace, and at various junctures throughout the album's duration, this pace only slightly lessens. Midway into the track, quick time changes, not to mention the technical demeanour of both guitarist Joe Haley and bassist Cameron Grant, extremely begin to surface. Critiqued against its fellow numbers, the appropriately titled “A Calculated Effort” exerts both time changes and complex music upon a more frequent basis. At its very conclusion, the track morphs into a wholly differing cut, and that swansong passage immediately segues into “Slaves of Nil”. Spanning eight minutes, “Initiate” is Ob(Servant)'s final composition. A respectable, straightforward Extreme Metal number, Psycroptic never excessively indulge in time changes within this specific instance. A near Thrash Power ballad, Death growls and screams furnish the track.
For this reviewer, most Extreme Metal material is difficult to savour: frequent time changes prohibit a genial musical flow, as was the case upon Ob(Servant)'s initial listen. Following several listens however, Psycroptic's stylings gradually heighten in appeal. Dave Haley's contributions prove engaging, given the fact that few drummers can thump the skins at such a pace, and with such technique. Haley happens to be the glue which prevents the cuts from becoming excessively insane, and that's the man's ability. Peppiatt's technical abilities are capably matched by guitarist Joe Haley's abilities, the listener never knowing where each respective musician will venture. Whilst Peppiatt's mid range screams and Death growls prove befitting, the same cannot be said of his seemingly strained high screams. Personally speaking, it'd be warming to hear an album's worth of tracks in the vein of “Initiate”. At certain junctures, excessive time changes occur, and this subsequently causes a void within Psycroptic's straightforward brutal Extreme Metal. Upon Ob(Servant), this is what surfaces most frequently.