Psychotron - Open The GateIn a way, all metal sounds alike. You've probably heard it from a lot of people near you; parents, friends, girl / boyfriends, teachers, you name it. Can you name well-known bands who are (in a lot of people's opinion, of course) straight on Slayer rip-offs? I bet you can. Can you name well-known bands who are (in your opinion of course, bla bla bla) straight Iron Maiden rip-offs? Ahh... judging from the sarcastic laughter, I guess you can.
But does that make these bands bad?
No, I think not. Not all, that is.
Psychotron was founded in mid 1995 in Stuttgart, Germany. Eager to show the world what metal should sound like, they recorded a demo and two self-financed full-length albums. For a short while, the band found a label in Generation Records, a German record company who was willing to produce their second album, Open The Gates. But, as in all history, the good life wasn't meant to be for all. After 8 months Psychotron split with Generation Records in march 2004. In search for a new label, the band is continuing their quest to blend melodic power metal with the agression of thrash metal.
Open The Gate starts with quite a long intro. the synthesizers flow over to a guitar-arpeggio, where the guitars (which are slowly infused with distortion) are joined by vocalist Matze and the drums. No matter in which type of media I played the cd, everywhere there is a short break between the intro and the second song, titletrack Open The Gate. This annoyed me because the two tracks were obviously meant to fluently connect.
The mix of melodic power metal and agressive thrash metal is done in a decent way. Although vocalist Matze doesn't have everything that it takes in order to fit in with bands like Edguy or Slayer (especially when using harmonized double vocals), he has a decent repertoire of vocal qualities (varying from a normal, clean voice to a more brutal one, sometimes surprisingly followed by a King Diamond kind of scream) and is capable of fulfilling his role as the voice of a symphonizer / an aggressor.
A different story is the guitarsound. In a band where two guitars are used, I think it is quite important to have a sound that is not only good for playing simultaniously, but also for following the other guitar up. In this, Psychotron are not quite succesful. Especially in the intro of The Ticket, this is quite annoying because the songstructures are very good and you sometimes have the feeling of listening to a 'classic' thrashmetal band like Testament. That is why it's quite unfortunate that the album contains some of these 'moments of truth' in places you'd have least expected them to be.
Be it as it may, Psychotron is without a doubt succesful in being agressive and energetic. Only the intro and Instrumental contain moments of boredom, but luckily these two tracks don't reflect the rest of the album. As said before, the songstructures are very good and even the vocal poem Meine Hölle fits in with the agressive music of the rest of the album.
Open The Gate is a good album when looking at the effort that has been put into writing the songs. Sometimes melodic, mostly thrashy, sometimes melodic and thrashy, it sounds very decent. Although the band leans a bit more towards the thrash metal side, it is diverse enough to hold the interest of a wide range of listeners.
One of the more pressing downsides is the production. The two different guitarsounds are mostly to blame, but there is also the issue of the gap in volume between songs.
All in all, I'd say: give it a go. Yes, they sound like classic well-known bands, no, their sound isn't that impressive that you'd go yell it from the rooftops, but they have potential and that is something you may never turn your back on in these days of bad newcomers in metal. Kick back and thrash away.
Matze M. - vocals
Matze Braun - guitar
Gert Kopf - drums
Frank 'Mampf' Herold - bass
Kai Huissel - guitar
2. Open The Gate
3. God Nihil
4. The Ticket (To Insanity)
5. Meine Hölle
6. Private Hell
7. Beauty Of Sadness
8. Closing Doors
10. Necromantia (Welcome To The Dead)