Psalm Zero – The Drain (Profound Lore Records)Tuesday, 4th March 2014
Frequently you can grow to enjoy an album that, upon first listen, really leaves you somewhat puzzled or embittered. Case in point: Psalm Zero. Occupying some peculiar abyssal territory between the likes of the last trilogy of Blut Aus Nord industrialisms, indie touches, and pieces of Andrew Hock’s main gig Castevet, The Drain is not an easy listen to classify OR digest. It is, however, an experience, one that grows over time, revealing more than its initially frigid impression gives away.
First impressions are frequently everything and opener “The Drain” leave the listener unsure what to expect with its programmed drums, heavy synths, and frigid bleakness. Melodies foam over, but there remains no warmth, everything is an exercise in the cold divide that occupies the vibes time has forgotten of industrial presence in the music world. And really, this kind of peculiar sonic terrorism, if able to consider it that way, continues throughout. Not in a rabidly aggressive kind of way, akin to powerviolence or the ordinary tropes in grindcore, but something more withdrawn, something more knowing.
See the mathy-asides of “Chaos Asides” and its many virtual toms or the fittingly titled “In The Dead.” The latter, in particular its midsection, is as lifeless a manifest as a listener is likely to find, even when the song shifts gears into a somewhat brighter mood near the end of the song. Do not mistake, the lifelessness comment is not a knock, instead being an attribute which the band uses to enormous effect, whether in the synth-driven instrumentation or in the trading of clean and harsh vocals between the two members.
The Drain, then, is an experiment in the realest of terms, an embodiment of an ideal somewhere untouched and unexpected (at least, from the half of the band I’m familiar with). What’s here isn’t for everyone but then again, what is? Whether on an artsy bent or simply wanting of an album to match this apparently brutal winter, this makes for a fitting score to any number of Reagan-era apocalypses. Dive in, be frozen, realize the emptiness.