I have never heard a guitarist like Joe Haley. Not ever. The degree of creativity in his fluttering, dystopian riffing is in its own dimension, like the sounds of some nightmarish technological super society falling into fire and darkness. They are the basis of The Inherited Repression, pure and simple, as he and his brother, drummer David Haley, paint 9 succinct portraits of jarring, zig-zagging chaos across the shattered horizon.
This is basically an endless procession of innovative riffing ideas, technical in execution but simple in spirit and concept, as the rhythm section provides an acrobatic core for this lone guitarist to spiral into unknown galaxies, with vocalist Peppiatt lending dry, rough, powerful yells to provide a consistent, unsettling counterpoint. His style does not change much throughout, a contrast to the variety shown in the last couple albums, but he lacks nothing in power, and the performance resonates perfectly against the poignant, ever-shifting landscape of notation. In all the overwhelming speed, technicality, and mechanistic rage, he produces a subtle, agonized spark of humanity, a withered, thorny flower struggling to protrude from endless cyborg carnage. The focus is surely on the tightrope intensity of Joe’s performance, but everybody here plays an important role in defining the sound. I only wish the bass tone was more pronounced, as even after around ten spins I can’t really comment on Cameron Grant’s contribution.
The rather direct, savage slant of The Inherited Repression is something of a new direction for Psycroptic, much less wild and overtly technical than past records, possessing an almost thrash-like compositional attitude. The end result is much less cluttered and psychotic, taking a step away from the modern conventions of technical death metal into a place where each riff, each subsection, has much more room to breathe. In all, I like it. It might be just a touch less exciting than Ob(Servant) overall, but it’s certainly no less valid an approach, and should hopefully see a growth in the band’s fan base, as it is mildly more accessible. Don’t be fooled into thinking Psycroptic have lost any of their aggression, though, as even though the riffs aren’t packed quite as tightly at times, there are still roughly a million of them, and they flow quite effortlessly.
The Inherited Repression is the sound of an established band experimenting a bit to find the pace and density that suits them best, and the relaxed precision with which they summon these whirlwinds is indicative that they may have found it. This feels like a new plateau for these Aussies, and it’s both gratifying and inspiring to hear Psycroptic growing into themselves, firmly establishing a moonbase for their unique spirals of alien notation. The Inherited Repression is a strong, inventive grower of an album, definitely their most mature work and a strong contender in the 2012 tech death arena, though still somewhere below immortality. However, given the new level of comfort the band seem to have gained in their writing and abilities, I have a feeling that the next time around they’re going to knock us flat fucking out.