Coming from Adelaide, South Australia, Psycho Green has been doing the rounds for nearly two decades now, first forming as a punk rock back in 1995. Through the years together the band’s style has changed and grown with the band, their current sound bearing a substantial modern rock influence, while still retaining a heavy helping of the at punk influence from years gone by. Though the band have been around in some capacity for nearly twenty years, their new EP, ‘Rat Trap’, is the band’s first proper recording.
A pair of really well-written tracks have this EP off to a strong start. The band kick things off with the EP’s title track, ‘Rat Trap’. A heavy rocker with some seriously groovy riffs, and a suitably gruff hardcore style bark to go along with it. A shift occurs near the end of the track with a faster section with clean vocals and an almost uplifting feel, before breaking into a monstrous breakdown to close things out. This track has a bottom-heavy production which really adds to the beefy grooves present here, although the vocals, in both their styles, aren’t among the better performed here. ‘Valkyrie’ is next, a faster-paced track with some incredibly catchy guitar work and a much stronger vocal performance. One thing I really liked about the writing in these two tracks was the use of the bass as the leading instrument under the vocals in the verses. This puts the vocals nicely at the forefront of the verses, while at the same time really enhancing the impact of the guitars once they come in.
‘Land Of Nod’ is basically straight-ahead punk rock, from the simple 3-4 power chord riffs through the shouted vocals. Nothing terribly exciting here, but the band certainly play this one with enough conviction and energy that it works. The EP closes out with a pair of tracks that could almost be mistaken for pop-punk. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ is actually a pretty fun track, even if it’s not my usual cup of tea. The riffs are catchy, the vocals are nicely done and fit the track like a glove, and the simple chorus is much catcher than it probably should be. Not something I’d revisit frequently, but a lot of fun for the odd listen. The proceedings close with ‘Perfect Day’, which follows in a similar style. Where Talk Is Cheap worked though, I didn’t feel this track was as strong. While everything here fits cohesively together and the performance is strong, this track really did nothing for me, and almost sounds like it could’ve been recorded by a completely different band than the other four tracks.
The production of the EP really suits the music well. The overall sound is quite rough and raw, but everything sits well in the mix to make for a pleasing combination. The drums sound great, particularly the punchy snare and the kick, which has a solid low-end thud that works well with the slight click. The bass is nicely pronounced in the mix, sounding very tight with just the right amount of bottom end, and guitars with a nice chunky tone to them that cuts through the mix just like it should. The musicianship tends to get a little sloppy at times, especially the drums, but there is a good deal of feel to the playing here which makes up for it. The slightly sloppy nature of the music tends to lend itself to the music more than detract from it.
One thing I would say is that the musical style throughout this EP is quite chaotic. It almost seems like the band can’t decide what style they want to play, as no two tracks here sound all that similar to one another. The vocals especially make huge jumps between tracks, with varying degrees of success. It really seems as if the band are lacking a bit of focus. While most of the songs here are of good quality, I do feel it would be to the band’s benefit to narrow them down to a particular sound when writing in future.
Overall, while I really enjoyed the feel of the EP, and found several of the tracks to be quite enjoyable, the lack of focus and one or two tracks that did little for me personally dragged my enjoyment of ‘Rat Trap’ down a bit. Depending on your listening preferences you might get more mileage from this release than I did. Ideally, I would like to hear a more focused effort from the band next time around. That being said though, Psycho Green have done a strong job overall with this EP, and you could certainly do much worse with 16 and a half minutes than give this a spin.
Release Year: 2011
Reviewed by Matt S.