Southern California's Psionic is a band that isn't afraid to experiment. Sort of like a Heavy Metal diversity council, they seek to erase subgenre boundaries by blending together elements of thrash, industrial metal, power metal, and even screamo. They call this metallic stew "cyber metal", and have been dishing out heaping portions of it since 2000. Having released a demo and an indie long-player thus far, Psionic's latest offering is an untitled 4-track promo designed to showcase the latest version of their intriguing concoction.
"Under Silent Rule" gets the promo started with a thick, traditional metal inspired riff silhouetted against a subtle keyboard backdrop. The synth element is a major factor in Psionic's sound, which stands to reason since all three musicians (Robert Nusslein - vox, Gary Miranda - bass, Mike Pardi - guitars) make keyboard contributions. Initially serving mostly to create a slightly ominous background, the keys do make a more prominent appearance as the song (and album) progresses. For instance, the latter moments of "Under Silent Rule" delve into the world of atmospheric Black Metal as the keys overtake the guitars. "Ethereality" starts off with some scratchy electronic pops and clicks before Nusslein punches it open with a Nu-ish yelp. It's not long, however, before he slips back in to his predominate style - which reminds me a lot of Jay Godron's (Orgy) emotionally detached tone, though with a slight Marilyn Manson menace. His performance is a major factor in bringing the industrial edge to the mix, given that the synth pieces run the range from industrial to power metal. Pardi's weighty riffs on "Transpire" are a typical example of his importance to Psionic's sound. Not only does he infuse the songs with locomotive energy, his noodling leads and screeching solos drop a megaton of thrash into the cauldron to keep the disc from drifting too far into the stratosphere. The final track, "Wordless Aeons", showcases Psionic's vision of the future. All of their core elements are present, though this time the band builds tension and lends an epic air to the song through the use of orchestration. I'm reminded a slight bit of Therion, with somewhat of a Rammstein vibe, but Nusslein drops some more screamo moments that tarnish the effect. Pardi's riffs are mostly of the stop-start variety here, which when coupled with Nusslein's screams tend to offset the orchestral work.
Psionic's take on metal is, overall, an interesting one. There's an awful lot of cross-genre appeal at work within these four tracks, giving the band the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of acts like Fear Factory, Powerman 5000, and Godhead. Unfortunately, it seems that Psionic has slipped off the radar screen and their status is uncertain. Pardi has resurfaced in a few other Southern California metal projects, which may mean that Psionic is no more. Be that as it may, fans of industrialized metal who can stomach some Nu-metal influences should try to get their hands on Psionic's earlier work.
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