If the name Psychework does not sound familiar to you, then I wouldn’t blame you for not knowing about them. They have been shrouded in secrecy since their inception in 2012, rising from the ashes of one of Finland’s popular metal bands, Machine Men. They were originally formed as an Iron Maiden cover band, but Psychework is an entirely different kettle of fish altogether from that band. They have kept such a low profile since their creation, they only played their first show in January, with their debut album The Dragon’s Year coming out on Finnish label Ranka Kustannus on the 16th September. It has already been released in Finland, on September 2nd, with a release concert taking place at Virgin Oil, Helsinki on September 3rd.
The album is influenced by lead vocalist Antony Parvianen’s own personal battle with leukaemia, and a lot of the lyrics stem from him starting a journal whilst being treated, with with the music coming later on after he had won his battle.
The Dragon’s Year caters to everything a metal head could possibly want , erring on the side of being melodically strong; a real class act of dark, progressive heavy metal with dramatic orchestra sections and harmonious, haunting vocals.
Hand on Heart is an impressive introduction to the Psychework sound, with melodic weaving guitars and powerful vocals from Antony Parvianen. The atmosphere is almost theatrical and really draws you in from the off. This song has more of a progressive metal style with driving guitars and thundering beats from the drums with decent keyboard work which accentuate the sound.
We end that track on a high before thundering into Bullet with My Name, which continues on a more power metal theme with operatic vocals which turn into more of a scream in the middle of the song, before relenting into a complex guitar solo before Powerwolf-esque choir vocals acquaint us to the final climatic chorus.
Tide is another progressive track with dark, theatrical vocals, big sounding guitars and more than just a hint of Iron Maiden sound, considering the history of Parviainen and guitarist J-V Hintikka with Machine Men.
Keep the Flame slows down from the progressive onslaught into a more Gothic metal vibe, with slow poetic lyrics, and decent lashings of Iron Maiden influences again. It also takes on a strong vein of Nightwish sound, with pipes and strings making an appearance in the song, giving yet another style to the album in addition to the progressive, power and Gothic themes discovered thus far.
Barricades Won’t Fall continues with the softer style as it starts like a slow anthemic ballad, rising into a haunting organ and strings before all instrumentation then kicks in. There’s more haunting vocals and beautiful organ sections which make it take on the Gothic slant again, before it winds down with strings.
Vale of Tears sets the album back into a power metal run once more, with a slapping bass intro before the guitars start. More haunting slow vocals continues as the song builds into a climatic chorus. It’s one of the shorter tracks on the album, but doesn’t lack for it in the slightest, with more hints of Iron Maiden to keep the listener hooked.
Tear of The Phoenix takes the album into another heavy progressive direction, with prominent organ before it slows down into a slow vocal build-up, before the instrumentation thunders in. It continues on a roller coaster, with a hard, dark sound and cinematic choir backing vocals – which are very Powerwolf in their sounds, like a church choir. It’s another strong track from this debut album and a personal favourite of mine.
The title track The Dragon’s Year comes at the finale of the album and starts with a slow organ piece before it fires on all cylinders with hammering drums and fast guitar work. The song resembles Antony’s success of wining over leukaemia, with great lyrical work and Iron Maiden-style vocals again. It finishes with fading keys and then silence.
The Dragon’s Year is a spectacular debut album by Psychework, and although they are not new to the music business; I feel they can only go onto bigger and better things when releasing albums of this quality from the off. It is an impressive first introduction to this band and it will be intriguing to see which direction they take next, considering there were so many different style and potential avenues of metal they could take just from this one album alone.
It keeps the listener on their toes, swinging from progressive metal to melodic to Gothic with one fell swoop, and failing to disappoint with each track, making sure there is something for everyone on this roller-coaster of an album.