Psychonaut have got something about them. An indefinable something, I’ll grant you – so indefinable it might not be obvious to the casual listener – but something nonetheless. The way they manage to fuse ragged, early eighties Teutonic thrash dynamics to some startlingly good duel lead guitar work and a falsetto scream that’ll have King Diamond thinking about retiring is a strangely compelling joy to behold and, whilst I’m not a horror/sci fan and so have little or no idea what any of the lyrics are about, every song hits the spot in a variety of mad-as-a-cut-snake ways.
Vocalist/guitarist and band founder Mark De Vattimo leads his troops through tracks revelling in titles such as Darklord Rise! (which I’m fairly certain is about Star Wars) and Lemmy von Frankenstein; but whatever the comedic value of the (I’m sure if you’re into this stuff) chucklesome lyrics the quality of music on show is absolutely top drawer. De Vattimo is a much-awarded guitarist in his native Western Australia and you can hear why all over this record. Some of the solos are frighteningly good, and whilst that level of proficiency doesn’t always sit particularly well on top of some of the more brutal/shambolic riffage going on it certainly makes you stop and get a good earful of what’s going on.
Not totally successful as a whole then, but there are enough stunning elements to Shock ‘Em Dead to make this a worthwhile purchase for anyone who likes some outlandishly good heavy metal every now and then.