Psalm Zero is an avant-garde duo from New York and “The Drain” is their first album. I came across these guys while looking over a list of new releases and gave them a listen on iTunes to hear how they sounded. I tend to like bands on the Profound Lore label, and I’ve come to expect a certain sound from those bands, so I was rather surprised when I heard Psalm Zero.
The clips I listened to had a somewhat heavy sound with a droning ethereal feel while one of the guys sang clean and somewhat plaintive vocals over top. This was not at all what I was expecting from a Profound Lore band. My interest was now aroused.
I listened to a few more clips, and while I wasn’t entirely sure whether I would like the album, I was sure that it was different enough from any of the other new releases that it warranted closer inspection. So I said, “What the hell,” and I bought the album.
With the full album in hand, I hunkered down for a more thorough listen. I can now safely say I don’t recall having previously listened to anything quite like Psalm Zero. There are definite metal elements to these songs, but there is also this early 90s British dream pop thing going on that I actually find myself enjoying in this case. There are keyboards and electronic elements as well, which would normally turn me off to a band, but the context in which they are used feels right, so I abide.
I’m not known for my love of avant-garde or unusual music, so rest assured that while there are certainly elements to these songs that one does not normally find in metal, it isn’t so far removed that I had trouble liking the album. There are, of course, also some metal attributes to the songs that help ground me and return me to a familiar point of reference. Charlie Looker is the clean vocal side of the duo, but Andrew Hock also chimes in with some welcome harsh vocals from time to time. Some of the clean vocals bring to mind Ghost, which also endears me toward Psalm Zero.
“The Drain” is certainly not going to be for all metal fans. The sub-genre purists that cannot allow for experimentation will surely howl in protest if forced to listen to this album. Personally, I am neither a total purist, nor a wildly adventurous type; I am open to many different styles and sounds, yet I do not suffer bands that get too weird in their pursuit of being different. For me, Psalm Zero sits perfectly between these two worlds: they are refreshingly different without going too far afield of “normal” song structures.
Ultimately, I liked “The Drain” and was glad to have made the purchase. They say the proof is in the pudding, so this is where I would normally include a track from the album as an example of what I believe to be good and right about a band. Alas, at this time there aren’t any studio tracks available on YouTube. I am, however, including a live version of the album’s title track. It serves to give you an idea of what Psalm Zero sounds like, but I recommend hearing the studio version before forming a final opinion. Check out some samples on iTunes like I did.