Psalm Zero - The Drain

Psalm Zero is a New York City experimental metal band featuring Charlie Looker (Seaven Teares, Extra Life, ex-Zs, ex-Dirty Projectors) and Andrew Hock (Castevet). The duo’s first full-length album The Drain features aggressive yet intelligent songwriting along side gothic melodies, impassioned screaming, dissonant guitar arpeggios, icy synth flourishes, and Godflesh-inspired drum programming.

In a similar fashion to Cynic’s vocals on Traced in Air, Looker’s clean vocals and Hock’s screams compliment each other extremely well throughout The Drain. The title track begins the album by establishing the band’s sound with chugging riffs and Looker’s signature vocal style, before Hock’s yelling and swirling synths come in, and then effective gang vocals end the song.

While the next two songs (“Force My Hand” and “Chaos Body”) are fairly relentless, bleak, and even punishing at times, the chorus of “In The Dead” is a surprisingly catchy. After the very 80s-sounding keyboard interlude (“Drain Postlude”), “Undoing” continues the juxtaposition of dissonant metal, gothic textures, well-crafted melodies and surprisingly uplifting sing-along moments.

The first half of the final song (“Meanwhile”) sounds sort of like The Cure (during the Faith or Pornography era) featuring a very depressed Morrissey on lead vocals. After two chorus sections, the second half of the song builds with wordy riffs, harmonized vocals, and eventually synthesized bells. The chorus returns with added screaming and eventually The Drain climaxes with horns providing the final melodic hook.

If you’re familiar with Castevet’s most recent album Obsidian (which was one of my favorites of 2013), you might notice a similar vibe of the final song, “The Seat of Severance,” which features Extra Life drummer Nick Podgurski on clean vocals. If you’re a fan of the goth meets metal sound of Vaura (another 2013 favorite), this album is definitely worth your time. Or if you’re into forward-thinking music in general and don’t mind the sound of a drum machine in metal (I don’t!), listen to the album here.