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Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Luminescence' - Psychocean (7/10)

Browsing through prog rock bands of the modern persuasion, I fell upon Psychocean, an art metal band from Italy. With grungy guitars, pissed off vocals and dark moodiness, Psychocean may sound like a few bands you already know of, and they turn this niche into something intelligent and cohesive. 'Luminescense' is the latest output from this band, and my first experience with the work of this quartet. Although their sound is sure to alienate the more conservative prog rock fans, their sound is distinctly modern and pleasantly experimental, making for an experience that could have been even greater with a touch more variety.

To describe the music of this band, it is dark, fueled by dirty guitar tones, and fleshed out by deep bass work and dynamic vocals. In this sense, they will certainly draw comparisons with the band Tool, and there is indeed a striking similarity. Like Tool, Psychocean's music is complex, but not necessarily technically flashy. Instead, the band's sophistication comes through the way they tie their sludgy ideas together. Much of the music of 'Luminescence' flows as a single piece of music, and they certainly know how to keep a state of energy going within their sound. 'Ganymede' is something of a cold opener, easing the listener in with ambient electronic sounds, and it's not until a minute in where the listener gets a taste of what this band is all about. From then on, Psychocean stays on one frequency more or less, occasionally taking time to relax with psychedelic ambiance, but the majority of a listener's experience with Psychocean's 'Luminescence' will be based on the band's heavy leanings.

Throughout the album, the tone and direction of the instruments and even vocals stays relatively static, and while this makes for a memorable listen and powerful flow, there is a sense of deja vu by midpoint through the album, and a few surprises would have helped to offset that greatly. Something fresh that comes in the second half is a vocal cameo from Orlando Carmelo, the vocalist of one of my favourite Italian bands, Novembre. As far as this works into the music however, his voice and that of Marco Giarratana's aren't so vastly different, provided that Marco is singing softly enough. For a good portion of the album, he really belts out, and as powerful as it is, his most impressive vocals are when he is able to tone down for the more mellow parts of this journey.

'Luminescence' has been a great discovery for me, and while their sound may be a bit too close to Tool or Isis to identify them as a truly unique act, their dense, heavy sound is one that intrigues me.

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Posted Friday, December 2, 2011 | Review Permalink

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