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Psychofagist - Il Secondo Tragico CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.87 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Extreme avant jazz metal done how it is supposed to be

Many people (or should I say most?) dislike avant music and I find that very understandable. Avant-garde music (as well as any avant form in general) usually disregard conventions and strive for things that the majority of people, practically everybodyactually, either find completely repulsive, distasteful or even offensive; all of these opinions are for me, personally, are quite understandable and may even be pursued by some artists in order to attain some degree of attention. Other artists, on the other hand, just want to do things differently, using musical instruments in a strange way or writing music with the sole objetcive of making it sound divorced from what everything does.

This last case is the case with Psychifagist. Hailing from Northern Italy, the extreme avant metal band has been struggling within the scene for over a decade now. Starting as a technical death metal/grindcore band, they released their first album in 2004 (the brevissimo but very powerful self-titled release) still as a technical metal band. The debut, however, already had some hints of their future direction (such as having song titles refferencing to King Crimson). Over the course of the next half decade, they drastically improved and gave many layers to their style, eventually writing enough impressively new material to record Il Secondo Tragico.

Now, their second relese, the one this review is about, is not so very far away from the debut. They are still an extreme metal band with a style that navigates between death metal and grindcore. This time around, though, they have added enough new elements to their music to make it actually sound genuinely new, innovative.

But what makes Secondo Tragico so different from the debut album if they are both striding a similar road along the extreme metal lineage? As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, they have presented the listeners of Secondo Tragico with new elements, most proeminently the undeniable jazz unfluence, which appears in mostly every song. Mind you, the jazz element is not exclusive of the three types of saxophone used here, (played by the group's official guitarrist, Stefano Ferrian, but mostly by Zu's saxophonist Luca T Mai) , but also the guitars and specially the drums showcase such influence. Other experimentations are made here as well with electronics, sinthesizers and tapes, making it clear that the band does strives for making new things in music.

Another welcoming change that came to grace us in Secondo Tragico is the overall improvement of songwriting and a more focused approach they chose to have in their second, and so far latest, album. First, addressing the improvement in sonwriting, they have become much more interesting and impressive as a whole and less predictable as in their las labum, as well as bringing new things to the table, as adressed previously.

Second, even though Psychofagist music definitively CANNOT be labeled as organized or even even very focused, due to their chaotic (and sometimes random) playing style and the aggressive and broad use of dissonance the do, Secondo's music has a clear sense of direction, in spite of it being apparently inexsitent. The band knows exactly where to go and how to move and develop their chaotic sound, much like the Canadian avant metallers of Unexpect do.

Another cool thing for me about this album is how they don't tke themselves too seriously. Examples of this are scatered throughout the album, but it is the most visible in the last song, Free-Non-Jazz Powerviolence Sonata.

The last intrinsically good positive point about this album I would like to talk about is the album's length. One thing that greatly displeases me in avant music in general is that many artists and groups have no sense of opportunity and just dump everything they have in an album. Putting every last bit of material, specially something as abbrasive as this, on most times is not something appropriate because it tires the listener. So, unless you release an album that is absolutely flawless (as did Unexpect, in two instances!), you should keep it short, concentrating the best songs you have, which is what Psychofagist did here. That not only made their album more enjoyable (since you can give the propper attention to every song on the album), but also made it easier to digest. Most importantly, Psychofagist does not wast our time with fillers, what is something I value greatly in music in general.

Rating and Final Thoughts

To bands like this, it is hard to make a conclusive ending to a review because they sound so different. I could always point similarities with Ephel Duath and Unexpect, but in both instances the comparison would be flawed because, even though the bands cited are avant and, specially in the case of Ephel Duath, add elements of jazz to their compositions, it is jsut not the same. The level of intensity Psychofagist has and their raw power, probably driven by the grindcore part of their music, they have makes the band rather unique. The musical quagmire that is the music they put out does not makes it easier as well.

I can point out, however, that this album is excellent in many instances, the most important pointed previously. If you want a crazy, innovative and impressive avant metal group, that merges death metal, grindcore, experimental extreme metal and jazz, give it a try, put Psychofagist on your CD player.

CCVP | 4/5 |


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