Shards of the Hourglass is a monstrous death/thrash metal release that falls somewhere between Swedish death metal and the more adventurous side of 90s death and thrash metal. There’s a vicious German influence too – think a mix of Vader and Destruction. Take all of this together and it makes for a surprisingly engaging 58-minute blend of extreme metal.
This is an album of riffs, although one of the things I like about Shards of the Hourglass is that there’s more than just riff-worship here. Psychomancer know how to knit the various aspects of their songs together well, and also spend the time to develop atmosphere and mood where it’s required. Melody is bent to the band’s will very effectively as well.
There’s a range of different paces and modes of assault undertaken across this album, and some of the songs are quite long when compared to the norm for this sort of thing. It works though, as the extra breathing room allows the band to spread out and indulge some of the more mood-building weapons hidden in thrash metal’s arsenal.
I confess that due to the rather uninspiring album cover and band name, I wasn’t expecting much from this album. Well, don’t judge a book by its cover, as they say, because Shards of the Hourglass is a very satisfying and well-written work. I can’t help but feel that this release is destined to be largely overlooked, which is a real shame, as there’s some quality material here.
With that in mind, let’s see if we can shine a bit of extra light on the darkness, and find out some more about the band below the embed of the album…
Introduce us to Psychomancer
Psychomancer is: Duston Bullard-bass/vocals, Corey Blackstad-drums, Brad Heidorn-guitars, new recruit Andy Mote-guitars.
Put simply, why do Psychomancer exist?
We’re just a bunch of fuckin’ wage slaves on a tax farm, ya know, and murder is illegal. So we do this as a healthy hobby and coping mechanism for life’s bullshit. Ha ha ha! You know just to make music, for people who might give a shit.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
How would you describe the music on Shards of the Hourglass?
Dark, chaotic, intense, mysterious, melodic, foreboding, nightmarish, violent, ominous, thought provoking, rage fuelled madness.
Tell us about the album title, and about some of the lyrical themes on album
We will start with the title; “Shards of the Hourglass,” time is always of the essence. We’ve seen a lot of good people go in the last handful of years. The crushing inevitability of death, it’s coming whether you like it or not, whether you’re ready or not. Something you have to come to grips with. The world as well one day will not be here; it’s all in the hourglass. The lyrical themes; It’s not all about the time thing, it ranges, we have some movie themes, and some themed serial killers like in “Red Poetry.” We’re into that. Also war and nuclear holocaust is a theme; which is another inevitability. Being in real dark places in life. It’s a relatable issue as everyone goes through some shit. “Myrmidons” is about the controlling powers that be and the willingness of most people to be subservient to them. One song in particular about some individuals we know.
How were the songs written?
We all throw in our two cents. We work as a team; it’s not just one individual effort.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
“Shards of the Hourglass,” because of all the musical variations. “Faded Scars Return to Bleed,” because that one came out really good as well, and deserves some credit.
How did you decide on the order of the tracks?
We stuck em’ all in a hat, and shook em’ up. Lol! We just kinda wanted to go in an order where it has some good peaks and valleys. Of course the title track is always best to put last, especially when it’s 10 fucking minutes long! lol
What are some of your reflections about the album and how it has turned out?
I think we are all very proud. It was very fun to do this time around, we didn’t have any issues with anything, or anyone, and it was fun and rewarding. Big pat on the back to our producer Dan Klein of Iron Hand Audio for being professional, and a really cool guy to work with.
If you had to do it over again, would you change anything?
Not a thing.
It’s been 12 years since your last full length album – how does it feel to release Shards of the Hourglass?
Between the anticipation and obstacles for the release of this album, it feels very rewarding and fulfilling to finally unleash this beast on the masses.
I understand you’ve been through some considerable lineup changes over the years – what’s the current state of the band like?
We’ve got a pretty solid unit working here, it’s a well-oiled machine, and I think we’re here to stay for a little while.
What lessons have you learned from Shards of the Hourglass that you will take forward for the future?
Don’t get drunk and invite back ex-members, it’s never ever ever a good idea.
How would you compare this latest album to your earlier work?
With line up changes, comes different perspectives, and playing, new styles, new ideas; the sound has evolved quite a bit through the years.
What are your views on the current state of extreme metal?
It’s still alive and thriving. Especially given the current political climate, it gives metal heads a positive outlet. Metal head kids usually don’t shoot up their schools. Generally. Aside from all the trendy sub genres, there are kids who are still influenced by the legends. Keeping it alive. Extreme music isn’t going anywhere, it might go in some stupid directions sometimes, but it’s here to stay.
Do you have any other upcoming live shows you want to mention?
Playing one in Detroit for a friend’s birthday. Other than that we have been trying to focus on writing. If the promoters for festivals picked bands based on musical content as opposed to social media activity we’d have more shows to display.
What are the next steps for Psychomancer?
It’s back to the drawing board. Write another album, at least hopefully have another EP, maybe an album in a couple years, play the shows as they come, and have a good time with it.
Any final words?
We worked very hard on this album, and are proud of it. We enjoy it, and we hope everyone can find something they enjoy about it too. Thanks for listening. Until next time…