Psychonaut – “Violating Consensus Reality”


Incredibly beautiful, catastrophically heavy and with a penchant for lifting your mood to the stars: Psychonaut returns with the best metal of the year.

Release date: October 28, 2022 | Pelagic Records | Band camp | Facebook | Instagram | sound cloud

Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a gift. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it. Let it be. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store. A little nap in your office chair. Or two parts of Violating consensus reality by Psychonaut on your home theater system.

So maybe Agent Cooper from twin peaks I didn’t say that exact quote, but damn if I haven’t experienced that reality in a month. When I first picked up Psychonautfrom his new album, I expected another step up from their brilliant single on Emerald, the split EP with SAVER that I had the chance to see again last year. Still, I wasn’t ready for the unbridled talent and joy that Violating the reality of consensus offered me. It has been a daily crutch for my soul, comfort when the days darken, and sanctuary when my mind races.

What pushes me to be interested so often in records is the fact that Psychonaut crafted eight songs that each stand on their own. I can start the album at any time and instantly lose myself in the brutal yet brilliantly uplifting sound of the band, capturing their messages of hope, soaking up the band’s massive energy and channeling it into my own reality.

Who the fuck are who Psychonaut?‘, I hear you questioning me as I ramble about how good this record is for my sanity. Only arguably the best in class for progressive metal right now! Like tag mates The ocean, they straddle the lines of post-metal and prog, avoiding the technical side of things and featuring more folk and cinematic elements than before this time around. Like the previous ones, they are also one of the darlings of Pelagic records list, selling over 3,000 copies of their debut album No longer following the man of God on vinyl. Recognize the voice? Stefan De Graef is also a member of Hippotraktorwho likes Psychonaut are also from Mechelen, Belgium.

From the start, the disc slams. One of the main criticisms that many had about No longer following the man of God it was too busy, and some songs dragged on if you weren’t fully immersed. The band have certainly learned and adapted their style, with the opening track “A Storm Approaching” immediately ripping into massive riffs, huge vocal patterns and a punishing atmosphere. For a trio, the sound is absolutely massive, the timbres of the guitars having a big bass swelling like DVNEbut with much more frantic time signatures and fewer synths.

Where Psychonaut stands alone, and why I will defend the vocal until my last breath is how Stefan’s harmonies are like glue to the rest of the sound. The instruments seem almost written around his voice, when we all know the reality is probably completely different. The large grunt layering under the piercing also cleans up all those human emotions, both hopeful and chaotic.

To go a little further on this note, the theme of Violating the reality of consensus is directly tied to the band’s namesake, with not only a focus on self, but also on shifting the perception of our reality away from ingrained fundamentals towards something new. The concept follows the idea of ​​a new human identity, shaking up the idea that we are all separate beings in a dying world that needs hierarchy and order and pushing to live in harmony with each other. others and with our living universe. Drawing inspiration from the massive social changes of recent years, voice messages don’t always deplore the norm, they are often empowering and encouraging personal change and development.

The two tracks that best showcase the concept are the title track itself and the following track, “Hope”. “Violate Consensus Reality” opens with the beautiful voice of guest Stefanie Mannaerts from Brutus, which, alongside Harm Peters’ beautiful cinematic drumming, sets a soothing yet dark tone, before Stef takes over and the music quickly builds up an endless mountain of sound. Each plateau on the rise unleashes more chaos into the mix, before it all comes crashing down in a maelstrom of fury, with help from Colin H. van Eeckhout (Amenra) singing. From this destruction, however, Stefan returns with an amazing vocal burst about opening your center and realizing the next stage of consciousness. It’s esoteric as anything, and an extremely strong title track.

“Hope” builds gently from folk strings and soothing piano, increasing the tempo to a climax I originally pinned against “Of Matter – Retrospect” by tesseract as one of the best climactic soft metal songs, but after a month I realized it was on its own. The jaw-dropping delivery of the climax gives me butterflies, chills and a desire to shine my light on the world, something I haven’t felt metal in a while.

Psychonaut Don’t just rely on vocals and lyrics for quite a while, though, and for long stretches of time in the album, you’ll be treated to glorious riffs, guitar swells, and drum patterns that will set you on fire. ‘spirit. “Interbeing” is a very strong track, with a very cool hybrid riff that sounds like The ocean taught Tool how to replay music. But the prize for the album’s best riffs arguably goes to “A Pacifist’s Guide to Violence”, which, coupled with a roar of ‘HERE WE ARE‘ or similar from Stef, tears apart tectonic plates. It’s the ultimate hype track and a brilliant way to inject tons of energy into the end of an album that you’ve already had your fill of.

As always, they end the album in stunning fashion, with another remarkable climax. Production-wise, you couldn’t hit the high points that Psychonaut do with anything but the best, and compared to No longer following the man of God, it is by leaps and bounds. Even though this album had a fairly open sonic palette and didn’t feel too muffled, Violating the reality of consensus gives the impression that the band is playing in a northern fjord. Superb from start to finish Violating the reality of consensus is my album of the year, offering pure joy, endless energy and some great thought-provoking concepts.


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