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Dysrhythmia - "Psychic Maps" (CD)

Dysrhythmia - "Psychic Maps" CD cover image

"Psychic Maps" track listing:

1. Festival Of Popular Delusions (4:22)
2. Triangular Stare (5:47)
3. Reactionary (5:05)
4. Room Of Vertigo (6:49)
5. Iron Cathedral (4:24)
6. Lifted By Skin (10:50)

Reviewed by on September 24, 2009

"“Psychic Maps” is a stunningly well played, albeit very arduous, album to listen to."

When metal fans think of instrumental metal, what typically comes to one’s mind are artists like Yngwie Malmsteen, where the majority of the music is flashy shredding. Or, perhaps, one thinks of Sleep Terror, with their unusual time signatures and math riffing. Boasting the bassist from Behold…The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia tends to do both of this on “Psychic Maps," an instrumental album that is frenetic, complex, unnerving, and melodic all at the same time.

The album starts out fast paced from the start with quick tremolo picking on "Festival Of Popular Delusions" and doesn’t let up until the end of the album. The band utilizes an astonishingly wide variety of guitar effects and riffing, from swift tremolo picking that at times is nearly black metal-sounding, to complex math riffing (which is nearly always present from beginning to end), to free jazz, avant-garde playing. They even throw in some groove elements later in the album. Exciting and engaging, the drums complement the tense atmosphere perfectly, with heavy emphasis on splashy cymbals. The bass, when audible over the insane pace, typically follows the guitar work.

The band seems to be a big fan of long, drawn out build-ups, as they are present on nearly every song. “Room of Vertigo” makes use of this, along with a slowed down section with very light guitar work and splashing cymbals, complete with fast-paced shredding in the background. The best example, though, is in the last song, “Lifted by Skin.” The build up is wholly otherworldly and is followed by a very unexpected down tempo section that is very doom-y. It stands out among the rest of the album’s severe pace.

Dysrhythmia has created an album that is incredibly cinematic. They let their instruments tell a story; listening to “Psychic Maps,” one can almost imagine overlooking distant, unearthly vistas. The music is very exhaustive and though only clocking in at just over half an hour (relatively short for this type of album), the songs can seem long and be tiring to listen to.

“Psychic Maps” is a stunningly well played, albeit very arduous, album to listen to. Every instrument complements one another. The pace and tone is alienating, yet add just enough melody to keep it from being impossible to get through. I can recommend this album for anyone who likes comprehensive, epic tracks that must be taken in all at once. This is definitely not an album for anyone who wants a quick metal fix.

Highs: Stunning musicianship create an amazing atmosphere.

Lows: Exhausting music that is strenous to listen to.

Bottom line: A high quality instrumental album with a tense, cinematic atmosphere.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)