Psygnosis
Human Be[ing]

Psygnosis is a band from France, the home to many things weird and dark in the world of metal. Those two words describe Psygnosis, but beyond that, Human Be[ing] is difficult to define. It’s a difficult listen, for it pulls from many influences and often doesn’t even attempt to blend them. For the most part, Psygnosis’ music is an unpredictable mishmash of progressive-tinged, industrial death metal, overshadowed too often by a run-of-the-mill deathcore element.

Opener “Phase6” beings quietly, and then transitions into pummeling deathcore, a watered-down version of Carnifex or the like that will resurface frequently over the course of the album. “Phase 6” runs the gamut from deathcore to blasting death metal to into black metal, building the intensity. So far, so good. But then the song quiets again with a section of softly plucked guitar behind some glitchy drum noises that’s basically just boring. The track builds again into a brutal slam death metal breakdown (featuring more brutal vocals than before) and then finishes with a blast of black metal. When I listened to this for the first time, I was on board for the first few minutes of this track, but by the time it finished at almost 12 minutes long, I had lost interest.

But for the sake of journalism, I pressed on.

The following track, “Resurrection,” begins with a blackened groove, followed by a ho-hum slow arpeggio, and then a quiet, ambient section and then back to the deathcore, as directionless as the first. This track also features clean vocals, the downfall of many a mediocre band. Psygnosis’ haphazard genre-switching is already downfall enough, but these clean vocals don’t help. Toward the end, a repetitive, Meshuggah-like groove with weird synth noises floating above it actually works, because it goes on long enough that it allows the listener some sense of cohesion. The mid-section of “Lost in Oblivion,” with its nod to post-metal, is also a moment of success, but it’s short-lived as it leads to yet another deathcore chugging section.

The French spoken-word interlude of “Lost in Oblivion” (yes, they have the requisite French spoken-word section) contrasts uncomfortably with the English-language sample from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator in the next track, “SiBnt.” Following that, “SiBnt pt2” provides a short selection of beautiful cello and acoustic guitar. Because, what better to relieve the tension of a lengthy sample from a 1940 film about the value of freedom and equality?

Continuing on, “Drowning” is probably the strongest track present. It sustains some cohesive extreme metal, interrupted every so often by quiet synths and glitches. It has a clear industrial backbone and the sections flow more easily into each other for the most part than the initial tracks. It’s like a more death-metal Sybreed with a wildly progressive bent, especially toward the end before it lapses back into deathcore. Closer “Hurricane” is similarly more cohesive, and despite the distracting clean vocals and array of samples, manages to generate a palpable atmosphere. There are a lot of things going on, but it lacks the jarring transitions of the previous tracks.

If you are a fan of all of the genres of metal that I’ve mentioned and don’t mind shuffle mode, this album might be for you. The almost channel-changing feeling of some of the tracks as they jump from section to section is pretty jarring. Psygnosis really don’t have the songwriting chops to tie their diverse influences together into a cogent whole. Their music is a nonsensical mosaic that might benefit from some time in a melting pot.

They’re proficient at what they do, but only proficient – jacks of all trades, masters of none. If Psygnosis can manage to channel their technical ability into more cohesive song structures like the last two tracks and ditch the ‘core elements entirely, they may be on to something.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
June 9th, 2014

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