THEORIZED – Psychosphere
Its been 5 years since Bangalore thrashers Theorized released their debut EP False Hopes of Tyranny, establishing their surprisingly groove-oriented approach to a genre that is still practiced in a largely orthodox manner. The debut full-length Psychosphere is finally out and to begin mildly, it did not excite me the way the EP did 5 years back. I love the artwork by Gaurav Basu but the music itself….let me explain why.
The album has 10 tracks, with that now almost mandatory instrumental opener that ends up being just an album intro and not a full song. ‘Bound’ sets up the album quite nicely, building up a crescendo that paints a gloomy picture with its air raid siren SFX and sounds of people in torment. This setup is however, just not lived up to in the succeeding track ‘Unbound’. The opening riff of the song sounds like a regular exercise in syncopated riffs, lacks any kind of a tune that could burn itself into the listener’s head and is largely devoid of emotion. The songwriting does not have the ‘sneer & snarl’ that one associates with thrash and this can be said for the entire album itself. However, there is groove aplenty. The album is driven forward by its really groovy songwriting, where riffs land on beats and then jump off them constantly, like a little boy on a trampoline. This groovy foundation is strengthened by some really smooth bass playing with sweeps as abundant as slaps and pops. Notable songs demonstrating all of this are ‘Genetic Variants’, ‘Riptide’ and the title track.
The biggest disappointment on the album for me was the vocals. Anyone who has heard the band’s debut EP will recall the fulfillment that the shrieks induced when listening to any song from it. They complemented the groovy attack of the strings perfectly by complementing the general tone of the strings. Now, vocalist Madhav Ayachit’s style can only be described as ‘banter’ really because there is just too much larynx, too little throat and nearly zero tune. There is nothing ‘brutal’ or snarling about it which is a shame because aggressive vocals are what add to thrash metal’s signature meanness. In fact, this current style sounds more like an intervention on the overall musical experience. Re-recording ‘Venomous Tormentia’ from that EP with the new vocal style also did not improve matters.
If the band was going for a linear progression to each song, that got completely lost on me. The album has laid such an importance on groove that narrative is almost an impossibility with this current songwriting style. So much so that my favourite track from the album is actually the acoustic closer ‘Psychoacoustic’. Also, having an air raid siren in the intro is enough, there is absolutely no need to keep having it rear its head in other songs as well. To close this review, I will say that the overall tone of this album is a bit too casual and I really hope to hear something ‘thrashier’ from the band in the future. If you’re a thrash purist, this album may not be to your liking but if you’re open to a heavy yet groovy experience, pick this album up pronto!