Review – Psychostick: IV: Revenge of the Vengeance

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Rock Ridge Music
  • Release Date: November 4th, 2014
  • Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Chicago’s Psychostick have been making plenty of waves since their formation around the turn of the century. Ever since their initial “Beer is Good” single off their debut album We Couldn’t Think of a Title in 2006, the duo of humor fuelled metal musicians have toured tirelessly, unleashed three full-lengths and a handful of smaller releases, not to mention lately have taken to Youtube to post random song creations like the recent cover of “The Doom Song” from the animated series Invader Zim, as well as a cover of the theme to Bill Nye The Science Guy. But in late 2014, the group unleashed their fourth full-length album, IV: Revenge of the Vengeance, which has been one of their most well received to date. But is it really one worth checking out, or is it just a creation of one-joke gimmicks that wear out their welcome rather quickly?

IV: Revenge of the Vengeance is played up as a teaser/introduction to the album’s title track “blockbuster” film experience. “Revenge of the Vengeance” introduces this through audio samples and narration similar to a film trailer, while “Super Legit OFFICIAL Teaser #2 Explode” takes it to a whole other vulgar level entirely, making (who I assume to be) the narrator quit over the descriptions used towards the end of it. While many of the tracks that comprise the album don’t necessarily have anything to do with the climactic events that occur during “Dimensional Time Portal”, some are referenced as the band plays while the cosmic event stirs up.

The concept is that a rip in time is meshing worlds, and if it occurs, women will never put out again. The only way to stop it is through the power of metal, and only Psychostick has the ability to close it before the army intervenes and launches a nuke towards it (a typical remedy that adorns plenty of eighties films regarding natural, unnatural, and cosmic disasters). After the outline from news samples is laid out for the listener, the conclusion, “The Power of Metal Compels You”, hits with a short Fear Factory-style performance that doesn’t have the same industrial elements, but all the key sounds including similar vocal harmonizations and technological sounding atmospheres are still present. The problem is that the lead up to this builds to a conclusion that these two tracks in no way live up to, even coming off cut short with plenty of life still left to the song.

Thankfully there’s a number of other performances throughout the album that really stand out for a number of reasons. Flagship single “Obey the Beard” puts as much manliness as possible into the power of bears, as well as the demand for the listener to grow a beard by outlining figures like Dimebag Darrel, Chuck Norris, even Santa Claus and God having beards. It also throws a nod to the aforementioned song “Beer is Good” as a little easter egg for long time fans. This is followed by “President Rhino”, a humorous track about the benefits of having rhinoceros as president of the United States that is played completely straight. References to its thick skin and goring through opponents entrails on important social issues prove the dominant aspect of this, and make you genuinely ponder having such a man in charge of the nation. It’s a fantastic ad campaign for such an animal if one were to somehow be elected, or if former ECW now WWE wrestler Rhyno were to run for office. Oddly, as a side note, this, and the former track perhaps gaining inspiring from WWE superstar Daniel Bryan, both can loosely be tied to wrestling talents, though this may just be coincidental on “President Rhino”.

But, for the most part, IV: Revenge of the Vengeance stands as more of an observational comedy themed effort. “So Heavy” tackles the brutal death metal aspect of the deathcore genre and the low tuning used to make it sound “so heavy”, as outlined in the Dethklock Metalocalypse style introduction of “H-Flat”, as well as the general template many bands in that style seem to follow. “Choking Hazard” basically outlines what to do if someone is choking, but in a bit of an over-exaggerated manner for laughs. And then there’s “AWESONE”, which literally just establishes the difference between things that are or are not “awesome”, all leading to a conclusion that escalates quite quickly, much like the nausea that hits at the end of the aforementioned “So Heavy”, or the last bar of the “Bruce Campbell”, a song that pays homage through worship of a fantastic actor (one of my personal favorites as well). There’s also the alternative rock “Blue Screen”, which is a nice little love letter for computer users who have experienced the blue screen of death and lost everything, throwing Psychostick‘s musical skill into a whole other direction you wouldn’t think existed if this is your first time hearing the band.

Psychostick

Of course, you have some that hold a little more bulk lyrically, and even musically. “Quack Kills” is more of a light hearted performance along the lines of what you might find on the album Fear Will Cast No Shadow by The Autumn Offering. The song outlines a paranoia of ducks and how it has affected the vocalist’s life, all played out as though a memory he were explaining to a psychiatrist. Then there’s “New to the Neighborhood”, which introduces a vulgar man who lashes out at the new residents next door who came over to introduce themselves, leading to “Loathe Thy Neighbor”, a hysterical example of why other people living nearby can literally be hell, such as the elderly woman who calls the cops on everything you do, the scumbag deadbeat hick who is just outright ignorant, as well as the pains that come from having to deal with the home owners association. Every word of the song is spoken with absolute purity and hatred towards these venomous individuals, and, take it from someone who just went through dealing with neighbors from hell, anyone who lived with obnoxious people close to their house or apartment’s vicinity will immediately connect with the troubles, thoughts and actions outlined in this cut.

But what Psychostick album would be complete without some absolutely random songs that serve no real point to the release, but are just fun to have? Well fear not, for there are a few to be found. “Dogs Like Socks” is literally what the song title says it is, especially in the lyrics. Other than a few random words and a self-aware proclamation of not having an idea why these dogs the first-person lyrics refer to are even interested in them. There’s a cover of “Danger Zone”, which is very well done and keeps true to the original for the most part, ending with a comedic rehash of “Take My Breath Away” and how it leads to asphyxiation. The most deranged, however, is “NSFW”, which is literally just the word “fuck” shouted or sung in varying degrees of metalcore aggression, neo-classical guitar work, and short bouts of progressive rock and jazz. It sounds juvenile, but the sudden changes and how fantastic the music is make that childish element all the more hysterical to listen to, keeping the joke from wearing out beyond the shock of that first listen.

Psychostick continue to prove they are the metalcore equivalent of Gwar‘s Oderus Urungus using the cuddlefish of Cthulhu on Weird Al Yankovich to spawn some kind of rebellious party oriented metal and hardcore halfbreed, all the while continuing to mature and hone their humorous intents in all the right ways. They have even earned a certain degree of respect that, if the joke doesn’t quite work, much like the practices of the comedy troop Monty Python, they’ll still go for it, which is a commendable approach given the vast variety on display in their latest album. Yes, as time goes on, some of the novelty behind these tracks can wear off. Much like watching a stand-up comic’s live performance on DVD or whatever format you happen to have it on, you know the punchline, you know when it’s coming, and you expect it. Fortunately, many of these tracks have more going for them than just that one gag, thus making IV: Revenge of the Vengeance a suitable grab for long car trips, or just something to brighten your mood next to your favorite Korpiklaani or upbeat mid-career Finntroll albums.

Psychostick

Digital review copy of this release provided by Rock Ridge Music via Asher Media Relations.