I’ve been on a bit of a SDBM kick for the past few months so let’s continue this depressive trend with Psychonaut 4. This has been a great year of suicidal depressive black metal, with epic fucking bands like Numenorean and Ghostbath putting out powerhouse, genre-defining albums. I’ll cut the bullshit, Neurasthemia is alright, great in some instances, but doesn’t stack up to the magnitude of this year’s releases. Not to say that it doesn’t have really good, epic as fuck moments. It just wears thin after a time. Are they a bit of a Lifelover copy? Well, yeah but that doesn’t matter so much. Neurasthenia is solid. This album might not be linking a new theme to the strict meter of DSBM, but checks most of the needed boxes. A few things I have to give Psychonaut 4 some credit for: the vocals, the musicality, and the feels man. And when it comes to DSBM, the feels are what matter right? Let’s get to it.
Starting off we have Prologue, which is, you guessed it, a long-winded introduction that sets a somber mood obviously laced with some kind of psychedelic. The production quality is great, and the manner of this track hints at progressive undertones, with ambient guitars and some other crazy shiz. This song is definitely too long, and would be better suited for this album at half the length. Maybe my personal sonal disdain for meandering introductions makes me bias, but what I want is the meat and potatoes rather than thin gravy. A testament to their namesake, this intro promises an instrospective, psychedelic take on the typical DSBM subject matter. Sadly it does not deliver on this accord as much as my personal tastes would like.
Alright so for the rest of the album, the formula is the same, nothing you haven’t heard of this isn’t your first dip into the DSBM pool. The guitar tone is rough and droning, combining some pretty interesting melodic black metal riffage with run of the mill drums. When listening to each song, it becomes pretty obvious when the inspired segment comes about, you know, that one great section you can tell the song was written to accommodate? More often than not on Neurasthemia, the guitarist provides these moments. Not ashamed to place melodeath riffs and bluesy rock solos, this guys pretty good even if some of his progressions have been heard a hundred times before. Von Baphomet delivers some killer vocals, the real standout on this album in my mind. They convey agony, sadness, and a whole host of melancholy adjectives. They can be out of place, taking the shitty clean vocal attempt at the end of Song Written in Paris. Speaking of that song, my god that accordion is irritating. It is horrifically executed and tacky, sounding like a novelty afterthought.
As I write this review and listen to everything again for the umpteenth time I would like to revise my initial statements. This album has aspects of a good DSBM record, namely a well utilized vocal style courtesy of Von Baphomet and wonderfully executed guitars. There are some great riffs and good progressions in the songs. Neurasthenia isn’t anything new. It is overall slightly above mediocre, something I have difficulty admitting due to it being a guilty pleasure of mine. Overall, will you like this album? Maybe, if you are deep in DSBM you might appreciate the sullen vibe. Otherwise, probably not. There have been so many great releases in this same vein this past year that if you are looking for something new, turn there. I give Neurasthenia by Psychonaut 4, 6.5 horns out of 10.
What goes good with depression? Not your run of the mill depression, but depression you need to vocalize to everyone for the attention. Yeah that kind. You know what goes good with that? Cheap vodka and tears.