With guitars coming out of the gate, spitting a cyclone of Yngwie-inspired classical runs, and blast-beat drumming that defies the very laws of physics, New Jersey-based progressive metal band Psychoprism peppers their music with a nod to the dramatic. It’s metal that, while maintaining an ultra-melodic sensibility, doesn’t skimp on the mathematical musicianship and thunderous, roaring fury of a thrash-inspired bedrock. In short, these guys are as technically sound and adventurously aggressive as you get.
Playing an awe-inspiring set here in Northeast Pennsylvania this past May at the NEPA Metal Meltdown in Pittston, Psychoprism is a vibrant cleansing breath from metal stagnation. They owe much to the boundary-defying exploration of bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning, with the powerful emotional purge of heavier acts like Iced Earth. The band’s debut EP, “Bloodlines,” through only four tracks deep, is quite the rollercoaster ride.
“Defiance” hints at the finest of vintage European power metal, with an air of “Walls of Jericho” early Helloween; Psychoprism vocalist Jess Rittgers’ flawless multi-octaved reach is impressive, while guitarist Bill Visser straddles the line between neck-snapping syncopation and flight-of-the-bumblebee leads. The track plays out like a lost Mozart opus set to denim-and-leather attitude; the neo-classical vibe is unrelenting.
“Further Than You” hints at more of an ambient mood, with a synth/piano intro amid Rittgers’ Geoff Tate-esque candor while he lyrically struggles with unseen demons (“Adrenaline surging / I am inhumane / Shall I prove it to you?”). The song takes several musical detours throughout with surging solos, breakdowns, and alternating rhythm pulses, only adding to the sense of suspense and theatrical presentation. Similarly, the operatic aura looms large in the rocking and driven “Stained Glass,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Queensrÿche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” as a perfect puzzle piece to that self-devouring storyline.
“Wrecker” picks up the slack from the current, reinvigorated incarnation of Judas Priest, with big riffs, harmonized guitar lines, and anthemic vocals all coursing within a distinctly melodramatic tinge of anxiety; the listener is kept constantly on edge, never knowing what complexly perverse lick lies around the next corner.
At once contemplative in its musicianship, threatening in its presentation, yet overwhelmingly cathartic in the blood it spills, Psychoprism’s attack is multi-pronged metal infection.
Psychoprism ‘Bloodlines’ Rating: W W W W W