Sound — 7
From GWAR and NoFX to Reel Big Fish and Mindless Self Indulgence, we've learned that a band can become popular if their penchant for humor is strong enough regardless of how conventionally good the music they're making is; and frankly, novelty is, at times, a refreshing quality to see in a band. Psychostick is of the same ilk, though it took a while for them to build up their following. Releasing their debut album, "We Couldn't Think of a Title," in 2003, it would take several years and a few lineup changes before they finally embarked on their first headlining tour, as well as making their follow-up album, "Sandwich," in 2009.
Momentum would pick up the pace for Psychostick in recent years, and along with releasing their most successful third album, "Space Vampires VS Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D," in 2011, their most recognizable single, "BEER!!," became the highest-selling DLC track for "Rock Band 3" in 2012. A year later, they launched an Indiegogo campaign to make their fourth album as well as their own studio for all future multimedia endeavors, and after reaching that goal with flying colors, Psychostick now release "IV: Revenge of the Vengeance."
As Psychostick's musical styling began with influences from the NYHC style, they've been branching out into other metal styles, both sincerely and ironically. "Obey the Beard" not only shows Psychostick channeling a strong nu-metal spirit, but also manages to be a good microcosm for the band's irreverence by shoving in cameo riffs - like the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" theme song and the Chia Pet jingle - and inserts a bite-sized satire moment of "Baby Got Back." "SO. HEAVY." is a meta-composed deathcore/doom metal track that uses absurdly-low tuning (as prefaced in the preluding skit "H-Flat"), tons of pinch harmonics, low and high-octaved dual screaming and super slow & heavy breakdowns. "AWESOME!" fills the mold of post-grunge metal, and they take a couple tracks to pay homage to thrash metal with the Megadeth-esque "Loathe Thy Neighbor," and the grandiose speed-metal cut "Fight to the Death."
Per Psychostick's range that historically applies with each of their albums, some tracks work and some tracks don't. "President Rhino" is crafted in the band's traditional hardcore style, but the track in general feels like a relative of 2011's "Political Bum," and though "Blue Screen" has vocalist Rob Kersey trying out a pastiche of Corey Taylor-styled clean vocals, the radio-friendly metal formula it's in was already mimicked before in "#1 Radio $ingle." The manic "Choking Hazard" runs the gamut in styles - from Metallica-inspired staccato slams to commercial metal clean sections and breakdowns - and ultimately sounds way too scattered, and "NSFW," which borrows numerous classical music motifs into a metalcore song with all the vocals being the F-word, the song is as stupid and juvenile as Psychostick likely intended it to be. And though their cover of Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" is a pretty stark and seemingly superfluous track on the album, it ends with an unexpected surprise of the band doing a silly a cappella rendition of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away," which again recapitulates the worth of Psychostick's irreverence.
Lyrics — 7
With Psychostick's comedic elements being their most captivating characteristic, it's always their lyrics that take the spotlight - whether in the form of brilliant observational and cultural humor, satire, or random ridiculousness. Like always, Psychostick spend some tracks simply talking about stuff they love: "Obey the Beard" is all about why beards are amazing, which also includes a list of people that are amazing because of their beards ("Chewbacca, is a beard! /Santa Claus, Jesus Christ, God... has a beard!"); "AWESOME!" is a general aggregation of things that are awesome, as well as things that aren't awesome and things that are somewhere in the between; and "Bruce Campbell" is a jovial song where Kersey gushes on about his love for the cult film actor. And in contrast, Psychostick also talk about some things they hate, and while "Blue Screen" is a funny lovesick-song parody about computer troubles, the scenario of terrible neighbors in "Loathe Thy Neighbor" comes off excessive.
Then, of course, comes the ridiculous stuff: "President Rhino" is literally about a rhino being the president of the United States; "Fight to the Death" is all about the concept of settling any matters, no matter how trivial, with fighting to the death (which also includes a funny criticism of UFC fighting: "It's going down to the ground like UFC/but it's really pretty damn boring/they're just lying there holding each other/it's technical and not exciting to watch"); and "Quack Kills" addresses the hilariously-specific anatidaephobia, which is the fear that you are being watched by a duck no matter what, which includes one of the better skits of the album in the end of the song. As indicated by the movie-style title "IV: Revenge of the Vengeance," most of the skits take form in satirical movie trailers or commercials, and aren't focused on establishing an overarching canon like in their previous albums - but the ending song/skit hybrid tracks at the end of the album, "Dimensional Time Portal" and "The Power of Metal Compels You," end up working like a lost "Metalocalypse" episode.
Overall Impression — 7
Just like other bands that are known for their goofy antics, Psychostick's "IV: Revenge of the Vengeance" is more concerned with making you laugh than melting your face off; though the metal itself isn't half bad, and in some cases, properly intense. And aside from the fact that "IV: Revenge of the Vengeance" is meant to be interpreted like the title for a movie sequel, all of Psychostick's albums function like a comedy film: some scenes may be great, others may be forgettable, but ultimately the goal is to get you to enjoy your time spent and hopefully check it out again. Psychostick's novelty is still strong this time around, and "IV: Revenge of the Vengeance" is an enjoyable listen.