It’s been a little while since we last heard from Sygil Records, in fact it’s been just over a year since I reviewed one of their releases (Charnel House’s excellent Black Blood). I’m pleased to say that after an all-too-lengthy silence, the label is back with yet another recording that challenges our perceptions of what dark and heavy music can be. That recording is Soon, the debut full length from Bloomington, Indiana’s Bad Psychic.
Bad Psychic creates slowly drifting, electronics-laden soundscapes that come off like eighties synthpop on quaaludes. It isn’t metal in the slightest, yet it’s every bit as deep and eerie as the bleakest funeral doom; the dreary, droning melodies causing a mesmerizing effect that makes it disturbingly easy to lose oneself amidst the layers of haunting synths and repetitive, mantra-like female vocals. Some of these tracks would no doubt be straight-up club-bangers if they were to be sped up, but the glacial pacing keeps things decidedly in the realm of specters whirling above an abandoned dancefloor, doomed to be forever out-of-step.
One can also point to gothic rock and darkwave as important pieces of the Bad Psychic puzzle. There is a menacing, nervous tension to tracks such as “The Veil” and “Daun of Kali” that recalls Bauhaus, while the melodies of “Dance Spell” and “Sway Forever” bring The Cure to mind in style and substance if not entirely in sound. The aforementioned synths that creep over the entire album are not only responsible for the melodies, but when coupled with the vocals and sparse use of beats imbue it with a pop sensibility that Andrew Eldritch would no doubt be envious of, tempered with just a hint of Lycia’s iciness. Sure, Soon could easily be called avant-garde, but it is also catchier than herpes, which comes as an unexpected and thoroughly pleasant surprise given the moody, minimalist nature of Bad Psychic’s approach.
Soon is one of the most highly addictive, beautifully composed albums I’ve come across so far in 2014; a glorious respite from the pummeling my ears typically take at the hands of heavy metal. Fans of gothic rock and synthpop will likely be all over this, but I could also see it appealing to fans of industrial as well as dark ambient, or really any sort of dark electronic music. The album is available on beautifully-packaged vinyl or as a digital download directly from Sygil; if you’re anything like me you’re not going to be able to go without a fix for very long once you’ve heard it.