Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (2007)
US, Metal Blade, Hyper Technical/Avant-Garde/Mathcore.
[Before the review proper starts, I’d like to mention that I’m well aware PsyOpus is not strictly speaking ‘Death Metal’, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t included on this website among their technical and progressive brethren, especially considering they’re quite easily the craziest band in both groups of music. With that nifty disclaimer out of the way;]
Jesus tap dancing, beer drinking, whore slapping Christ.
Without an ounce of hyperbole, I can definitively call PsyOpus’s ‘Our Puzzling Encounters Considered’ (along with everything else they’ve ever recorded) the most insane, disturbing and mindbogglingly technical metal I’ve ever heard…
…and I’m addicted to every nanosecond of it.
This band would in all likelihood make John Zorn shit himself in terror. In fact, the closest approximation I can give of their sound is if Naked City ate Dillinger Escape Plan, exploded into a fleshy mess and reassembled itself as an omniscient, omnipresent technical metal presence. Beyond the initial shock of their music (equivalent to being hit head on by a Mack Truck full of savanna elephants) the virtuosity on display here is unparalleled. Every single note, to the absolute umpteenth degree, has been sequenced, structured and played with such precision that the notions of order and chaos are rendered meaningless. While undoubtedly the pinnacle of musical insanity, there is an undeniable cohesion behind everything. The inner workings of this band are more than enough to not only snap anyone’s mind in half, but to continue snapping each half into halves infinitely.
I describe several of my favorite bands as inhuman, but humanity is not a factor in the PsyOpus equation. Regardless of whether this band is comprised of aliens, androids or they simply made a deal with Satan (this album has a running time of 66:06. Coincidence? I think not) NOTHING on this album is possible for 99.9% of humanity to recreate. Christopher Arp cannot be thought of in relation to other metal guitarists. The only possible explanation is that he is in fact a resurrected immortalized Niccolò Paganini, who found his way to Rochester, New York and assembled a crew of visiting aliens to record mind bending, time warping metal music with. Nothing else accounts for how this release both completes and destroys technical music simultaneously.
This review is easily one of the most difficult I’ve ever written. Not because the material is awful or I don’t want to review it, but because expressing in words the sensation of listening to PsyOpus is almost impossible. I’ve tried in the last several paragraphs to convey why this band is world changing, but even my trademark comparisons and humor have been inadequate. However unorthodox this may seem, I’d like everyone reading this right now to listen;
After you’ve picked up whatever remnants of your jaw and brain you can salvage, buy this album as well as ‘Ideas Of Reference’ and ‘Odd Senses’ immediately. I’m dead serious. No amount of words that I could possibly write substitute actually listening to and owning all of PsyOpus’ work. If you have errands to run, add finding these CD’s to your list and don’t come back until you own each one. If you’re stuck at home, use the internet while you still can to buy every album as well as a shirt. If you played ‘Insects’ and couldn’t stand it, take some time and listen to it again. I guarantee that even though it is difficult to appreciate and requires an incredibly refined palette, I’m sure it will grow on you. Whatever you do, do NOT dismiss this band. Even if they never record another album again (which would be tragic) you can pride yourself on owning every part of this legendary outfit’s unbeatable work.