Pride and Joy Music
Words: Craig Hartranft
Yeah, I know. I never heard of them either. But Psyco Drama hails from America, Colorado Springs specifically, and it seems that all but 20 years ago they had some success with two albums. Where have they been? You got me. Only the band knows. But the band is back and, listening to From Ashes To Wings, their first album in 18 years, that's a good thing.
Pinning down Psyco Drama's musical direction is uncomplicated. This is classic melodic heavy metal, spiced with some power, symphonic, and progressive metal, and then wrapped up in some obvious rock groove. To say that this is wildly progressive metal is probably casting our stones to far into the water. There's nothing hyper-technical about the arrangements. There's some gratuitious tempo changes and nice mixtures of instruments, light piano intro and segues against striking riffage, by example. But it's enough to gather some intrigue. Something I did notice, call it a "feeling" more than anything, is that the overall tone of the music is almost melancholy. Not dark, in some creepy goth metal way, but seemingly somber.
I think some of this may stem from my reaction to Corey Brown's vocal style. While he sings clean, clear, and melodic, he seems to come mostly from the lower register. Or, as I felt, he sounds dull or bland, even emotionless. But that feeling differed from song to song. Inferno at the start made me wonder if Brown didn't need a shot of some 5-Hour energy drink. Alternatively, his vocals are more present and rousing within Edge Of Forever and A New Day, in the middle of the album. Now this, in turn, made me wonder if it was not my perception but the production, the mixing and mastering putting some kind of damper upon Brown's vocals. But that could be said of the album's total sound. I found myself having to both raise and lower the volume many times to adequately enjoy the album.
But to a more significant and promising aspect of the Psyco Drama sound. Hercules Castro's composition and guitar work is simply terrific, with some of the best riffs and even better leads you'll hear from any heavy metal band (and their an American band. Thank you, very much). Not to take away from the other players, but Castro's guitar work is the very present focal point to Psyco Drama's sound. That, and the exceptional command he has for melody and harmony in whole of his compositions. Though I have some concerns with the vocals, these very things help Brown's performance along. It also makes From Ashes To Wings an enjoyable and interesting melodic heavy metal experience. It's enough so to put them in league with their European cousins where this genre still finds great favor. Recommended.
The depth of melody, harmony, and guitar work from Hercules Castro makes From Ashes To Wings an enjoyable and interesting melodic heavy metal experience. It's enough so to put them in league with their European cousins where this genre still find great favor. Recommended.
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