THOUGHT CHAMBER — Psykerion (review)

THOUGHT CHAMBER — Psykerion album cover Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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Psykerion (2013) is the second full-length album by US progressive metal act Thought Chamber. Given the time between the release of the album and debut release Angular Perceptions (2007) it's perhaps no surprise that the returning band has seen some significant line-up changes, with only Michael Harris (guitars) and Ted Leonard (vocals) returning from the line-up which recorded the debut. Despite the majority of the debut being written by Harris, Psykerion is quite a different progressive metal affair.

Where Angular Perceptions was relatively straightforward for progressive metal, focusing on a song-based format, Psykerion is a lot more adventurous with the different sounds going into it. It tends towards a more technical brand of guitar playing while also at times including nods towards power metal riffs as well as some lighter sounds ranging from jazzy references to symphonic prog. A sixteen track album, Psykerion tends to feature quite a lot of brief tracks, particularly during the first half (half defined by track numbers rather than overall length). They tend to touch on a certain idea in the music before moving on with perfect flow, like they're part of one larger piece. There are also a couple of longer tracks in the form of Behind the Eyes of Ikk and Transcend, both of which number among my favourites from Psykerion.

This album has been a grower for me. At first it seemed more than competent; the musicianship on display here is undeniably at a very high level. Despite that it didn't drag me in the way Angular Perceptions previously had. I guess this could be because this new incarnation of Thought Chamber have turned their prog dial up to eleven leaving less room for the catchy hooks of songs like A Legend's Avalon as well as requiring a bit more time to properly take in and appreciate. Time is often the key with ambitious progressive rock or metal albums and Psykerion is no exception, and after a few listens I've come to not only appreciate the differences in the album compared to its predecessor but also to regard it as the superior effort. Aside from the technical progressive metal parts there's some nice softer parts including another favourite of mine called Light Year Time. Their tendency to lean towards symphonic prog causes the album to have several moments that wouldn't sound out of place on a Neal Morse/Transatlantic release.

Psykerion has been a thoroughly surprising release for me. After so many years of not hearing anything about the band I had resigned myself to what seemed the inevitably fact at the time that Thought Chamber was going to be one of those band's who made one album and then disappeared forever. I'm very happy that didn't turn out to be the case and even more so that now they're back they're better than ever. Psykerion stands as one of 2013's high quality progressive metal releases, even going as far as to blow field leaders Dream Theater and their latest self-titled effort out the water. Although it took a few listens to convince me, I have to say that it's earned itself a top tier rating and has pushed Thought Chamber into the big league of progressive metal.

96/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/thought-chamber-psykerion-t3256.html)
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