Psyclon Nine: Order Of The Shadow [Act I]

This San Francisco-based industrial/metal crossover band is back from a brief hiatus with a new album, released on Nov. 12. There are 13 tracks, almost strictly for those in the head-banging (if that term still has meaning) crowd who are willing to accept techno-industrial elements on the menu.

There’s a fair amount of variety in this album. Several tracks are noted to begin with or have variable stretches within them consisting of formless, wind-like electronica and distant menacing samples. Numerous songs contain frantic, gasping vocals synchronized to artillery-like, pounding beats, and are very danceable. Other cuts like “Suffer Well” and “Glamor Through Debris” employ death metal forms, such as machine-gun-fast vocals that are aggressive to the point of being vicious, but are better to dance to than your usual heavy metal.

Contrary to T.S. Eliot’s line, “…The world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” the ninth track, “But With A Whimper,” contains a couple series of loud bangs separated by desperate whispering, and is definitely not for dancing.

Track 12, “Penance,” is barely a minute long and consists of wind-like noise without melody or rhythm and a brief noise bridge that could be the sound of two locomotives being violently slammed together numerous times before lapsing back into relatively soothing noise.

The final number, “The Saint And The Valentine,” comes as an astounding melodious departure from the rest of the album, with pitch-dark minor-key symphonic elements and moments of pleasurable, carefully sung vocals in a theatrical whisper alternating with the abrasive screaming heard on the rest of the album.

Heavy metal is neither my favorite, nor my forte to evaluate. Order Of The Shadow [Act I] has definite redeeming features, although it is not going to be within everybody’s comfortable listening zone. The best thing I can say about it is that it sounds like Skinny Puppy died in a horrible accident, went straight to hell, hooked up with some metal heads and from there produced this brutally seductive album.

In A Word: Disquieting