Interview+Album Review: Psyclon Nine - Less To Heaven


Nero returns to us with a masterpiece of an album. Less To Heaven is an incredible journey of interlacing sounds and experimentation that brings his particular genre of industrial to new life.

I never thought I would describe aggrotech as sexy but here we are, this album and its imagery are sexy A.F!

Having said that, I don't want to detract from the skill and talent so vividly on display with this release and I am glad I was able to ask some question to the legend himself..

 

The music of Psyclon Nine is not for the faint-hearted. The brainchild of Nero Bellum, the dark, aggressive electronic assault of his group’s 2003 debut album ‘Divine Infekt’ immediately earned them popularity and notoriety worldwide. Its follow-up, ‘INRI’ (2005), displayed a marked evolution with a lyrical focus on religious themes. In the ensuing years, Bellum's music has taken him down an even darker path, his distinctive whispered-scream vocals guiding us through an idiosyncratic take on modern underground music that has implemented elements of black metal and post-punk influences that, although often featuring haunting melodies, has often had an undercurrent of unbridled menace. The new album, ‘Less To Heaven’, is a complex and immersive work that sees Psyclon Nine at a creative peak, with concussive, machine-precise drums, hammering guitars, scathing vocals and evil electronics all interplaying seamlessly. It also sees the group charting undefined musical territory that bridges elements of metalcore with doom electronics, trip-techno with black metal, and experimental cinematic soundscapes with alternative rock. While many acts have a constant faster-louder approach to industrial-black metal, Bellum is unafraid to use all manner of tempos to build atmosphere. This is evident in the record’s first single, the seething ‘Money And Sex And Death', which builds with writhing tension, like a snake preparing to strike its victim, before exploding into an all out audio assault.

Bellum states of the song that..

“It was inspired by the excitement we feel when we see the world burning around us and the abhorrent personal truths that we hold as sacred. The misery of others has never been viewed by so many angles, and strictly for our entertainment. With ‘Money And Sex And Death’ I am presenting your reflection to yourself.”

(Possibly some of the best promo pics of an artist I have ever seen)

 
 

Interview

Strong Dark-Anime main character vibes.. I want this as a poster!


Q. Hi Nero! It was amazing to see a new Psyclon Nine album in my inbox as it has been a while. How have the last few years of pandemic madness affected your musical journey?


A. Aside from not being able to perform, the pandemic didn’t affect my lifestyle much. I spend a lot of time in isolation, writing, experimenting with sound.


Q. I believe you did some solo work with your album NFRN a few years ago, as well as re releasing the incredible 'We The Fallen'. For those who have not heard this new album, how would you say the musical direction has changed and what remains similar?


A. I try not to look backwards when writing new material. What changes is perspective as time passes between albums. I feel that too many bands are afraid to experiment and lock themselves into a cycle of rewriting the same album/songs ad infinitum. It’s a horrifying prospect as an artist.


Q. In terms of this release, not only is it a new album but a whole new aesthetic too, your artwork and overall style, especially in the new video are insanely gorgeous! Honestly some of the promo pics of you are some of the best I've ever seen from an artist. So in terms of imagery and meaning; What did Psyclon Nine mean to you when you first started out releasing music under that name, and what does it all mean to you now?


A. Thank you for the kind words. The aesthetic and the sound are married. I’ve always felt that a live show should be a visual representation of the music that you hear and that extends to the artwork / film as well.


Psyclon Nine has always been a vehicle of self-expression. A necessary therapeutic outlet. It’s what’s prevented me from becoming a mass murderer.

Q. There is a very clear anti-Christian theme in this album and it's content. 'THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN' also conjures up a strong image of hell with screams of the damned. So please tell us about the albums concept, and the messages you wish to convey! Could you also tell us a bit about the imagery seen in the music video for 'SEE YOU ALL IN HELL'?


A. While I don’t like to demystify my lyrics, The Poison Will Deaden The Pain speaks of the society and cultural zeitgeist that we’ve manufactured, the despair that results from multiple choice rather than open essay and our need to numb ourselves to the cycles that we succumb to.


I prefer that people conjure their own interpretations. Music is personal. This album is incredibly personal and these songs mean a great deal to me, but once the album is released it doesn’t belong to me any longer.


Q. Which song/s are most important to you on this album and could you give us a breakdown of some of the lyrics which you most want conveyed?


A. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t want to demystify the lyrics. I can say that each song is important to me and each song was necessary to create. As a whole, Less To Heaven is a showcase of my rage and anguish.

Q. What are the most important parts of creating music and songs for you and where do you tend to find your inspiration and drive to create them?


A. Every aspect is important. The music is the world that the lyrics reside within. Every sound paints a picture of that world and the lyrics tell the story. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes it’s a single sound. I’m always recording sounds. It can be on my phone while I’m outside, or in the studio messing around with a new pedal / module etc. There are moments during experimentation that give you chills. That’s when you press record.


Q. What artists have you been listening to most lately?


A. I don’t listen to as much music as you might think. Typically, if I’m in the mood for music I will patch something up on my modular system, or pick up a guitar / violin etc and play something. When I’m in the car I’ll often reach for modern artists like Surachai, Snakes Of Russia, Thy Art Is Murder and some of the older bands that I loved when I was younger, Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide etc


Q. What life advice can you share from your experience over the years in the music and alternative scene?


A. Persistence is more important than anything else and don’t rely on others when it comes to your passions.


Q. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?


Thank you for the love and kind words surrounding Less To Heaven. We’ve been fortunate to have the fan base that we have. Sending love right back.


Thank you for your time Nero!


Review

We are greeted by an unexpected piece of music for the return of Psyclon Nine with 'BLOOD IN'; A beautiful melancholy of repeating keys lulls us in gently but is soon complemented by some hard striking percussion and guitar repeating notes - In to a rather powerful build up of riffs and intensity.

'SEE YOU ALL IN HELL' Quietly introduces us to some low key dark lullaby like rap; When the soul scathingly good guitar riffs kicks in for a short time and the vocals distort back to the aggrotech signature sound of Nero's supressed screams, it takes you to all the right places. Welcome back Psyclon Nine!

This is a deeply profound track with some gorgeous artistry in the video. There is something about the low intensity guitar riffs, especially around the 1:46 mark, alongside the vocals that absolutely 'does it for me'. This is insanely beautiful and deeply iconic.

With no respite, we are thrust in to the gates of 'MONEY AND SEX AND DEATH'. The music video for this has touches of paganism imagery which is great to see come through in yet another Industrial band.

This track is darker and more refined than aggrotech has ever been. Guitars and vocals blast out their sections, and the quitter slower sections seem no less powerful for it, this is a deeply satisfying song that grinds right at your core.


“This song was inspired by the excitement we feel when we see the world burning around ourselves. The abhorrent personal truths that we hold as sacred. The misery of others has never been viewed by so many angles, and strictly for our entertainment. With MONEY AND SEX AND DEATH I’m presenting your reflection to yourself.” - Nero

'THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN' has some very impressive synths that add a huge touch of cyberpunk urgency, interlaced with seething spoken vocal growls. Within this track, the screams of the damned interrupt the progression but quickly give way to a crashing and high tempo ending that is impressive to say the least.


We all love a bit of mid-tempo, and in 'OFF WITH THEIR HEADS' we get just that, a nice spooky mid-tempo vibe that really shows off how haunting Nero's vocals can truly be. This track has some brutally delicious lyrics and is a satiating aural feast for the darker souls.


'X'S ON HER EYES' changes things up with a more dark wave approach to the vocal style from Nero, and brings a touch of the romantic, emotional poetic. This is of course blown out of the water by a heavy guitar riff and blistering return to his signature vocals. In this way the song takes turns to poetic, to intense several times and makes for a fist pumping, feet stomping power track.

'CATASTROPHIC' gives way to far more of an introspective instrumental track, peppered with Nero's poetics throughout.

'APRÉS MOI LE DÉLUGE' is a beautiful and experimental soundscape of cinematic proportion, the kind of music that would play out an emotive scene in a blockbuster sci-fi.

For some context 'After me, The Flood' which is what this translates to, was a nihilistic quote by King Louis XV of France that shows indifference to anything that happens to the world after his / your own death. In this sense I feel Nero has perfectly captured in a musical sense, the world ending all around us and the apathy that not only the powers that be show towards it all, but even within our own selves..


'BLOOD OUT' tugs at the heart strings and the darkest recesses of the mind. It is heavy with lament but also frustration, and pain. This is an incredibly unexpected style and direction that conveys a bit more of the 'emo' style of music but Nero has delivered this so well that it doesn't feel out of place on this album at all. This is another new blending of genres with industrial and I am impressed at how weighted with poignancy and value this song feels.


Track List


BLOOD IN

SEE YOU ALL IN HELL

MONEY AND SEX AND DEATH

THE POISON WILL DEADEN THE PAIN

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

X'S ON HER EYES

CATASTROPHIC

APRÉS MOI, LE DÉLUGE

BLOOD OUT


Conclusion


Less To Heaven is a truly euphoric evolution of aggrotech in to something much more profound and mature. There is a devastating emotional beauty woven amongst the passion, and aggression that Psyclon Nine has been well known for.

Nero Bellum has arisen Psyclon Nine to decadent new heights of luxurious sound and indulgence that brings the listener a new found sense of gratification for distorted industrial.

This much needed delve in to finding a relevant place for the 'aggrotech' genre in the modern day is something many artists have striven for and not quite hit the mark, but this album has done so with elegance and grace.


With Less To Heaven, Nero has proven his ascension!


Scores


Technicality: 9/10

Soul factor: 9/10

Energy: 9/10

Vocals/Samples: 9/10

Re-play value: 9/10


Overall score: 9/10

 

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