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5 records that inspired PSYCHONAUTS previous releases and 5 records that inspired their upcoming album

av Maria Refsland, publisert 04.03.2022, 12:43.
Psychonaut ALCATRAZ 301 by Christophe Brysse

Belgian sludge/doommetalband Psychonaut from Mechelen give us their sources of inspiration.

5 records that inspired "Unfold The God Man", "Emerald" and our previous releases

1. Porcupine Tree – Fear of A Blank Planet

This is one of the first concept albums I started listening to around 2010 while actually knowing there was a bigger story that tied all of the individual songs together. For that reason, this album has always felt to me like an almost inhuman achievement, because at the time I was very inexperienced and was still struggling a lot with songwriting. I couldn’t believe that there were people who could write such good songs and on top of that, link them all together into a massive story. I discovered this album a good 12 years with our first drummer, Peter, and we would listen to it over and over again on every roadtrip we did. And even after the 100th time, we still kept hearing new things we hadn’t heard before. To me, it’s an absolutely perfect album that keeps my attention from the first second to the last. I admire the dynamics in Porcupine Tree’s songwriting and am still blown away by how different all of the songs sound, but still feel like they are meant to complement each other. This is the first album that made me fall in love with the idea of a concept album and it definitely made me dream about writing one myself one day.

Favorite track: "Anesthetize"

2. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

It’s impossible to not include this album on every single list we make. This one really holds a special place in my heart because I discovered it for the first time in its entirety in a really difficult period in my life and this completely shattered my musical reality. I couldn’t believe what was happening when the Shine on You Crazy Diamond reprise started. I think it’s the greatest thing ever and I can’t believe they thought about doing this. I can’t think of a single album that gives me goosebumps more often than this one. The first parts of Shine On feel like a warm blanket that envelopes you gently. When ‘Welcome to The Machine’ kicks in, you feel transported into the depths of the universe. ‘Have A Cigar’ is probably the grooviest and most chill riff ever written. The title track is a profound tribute to Syd Barret (just like the rest of the album) and really radiates love. And then the last parts of Shine On kick in… Pure magic. This album is an inspiration when it comes to creating atmosphere and hypnotizing music.

Favourite track: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"

3. The Ocean – Heliocentric

This is the album that got me obsessed with The Ocean. A friend sent me the video for the opening track ‘Firmament’ somewhere in 2013 and I was instantly in love. I heard a band that had the perfect combination of complex, interesting music and a hypnotising, psychedelic atmosphere. The use of strings and pianos in metal music is something I had never liked until The Ocean proved that it could be done. The lyrics that support this concept are written very intelligently and fit the music perfectly. The album feels like one person undergoing a massive search for the truth. This is by far my most influential album of the past 10 years.

Favourite track: "Epiphany"

4. Amenra – Mass IV

It’s hard to describe the feeling when you listen to an Amenra album. I remember hearing them for the first time and being overwhelmed, but not in a good way. It was too much for me to take and I didn’t know what to do with it. It took me a while to figure out why all my friends were so into them. But when I started watching some of their live videos and eventually saw them live, I got it. I discovered them in a time when I was really into complex music like Tool and The Ocean but this band was such a breath of fresh air. I had never heard a band that focused on emotion and atmosphere so much. Their songs didn’t have that many variations or tempo changes, but somehow, they stayed interesting. The raw energy of the low-tuned guitars in combination with the half-time drums and Colin’s primal screams are magical. This album taught me to always focus on writing music that is profound and heartfelt, without wanting to impress people with complex riffs or song structures that don’t really mean anything. I remember every Amenra show I ever watched because they’re all a little different in terms of what you take home after it. Sometimes I come out really energized, other times completely exhausted but for some reason, their shows always do what I need them to do.

Favourite track: ".Aorte. Nous Sommes du Mèmes sang."

5. Tool – Lateralus

I remember hearing the opening track ‘The Grudge’ for the first time when I was driving my dad’s car one day. I knew Tool were famous for writing some of the most complicated rhythms in metal, but I was blown away by how much emotion was in the track. Sure, I had no idea how to tap my foot to it, but I still had the idea that I understood the meaning of the song or that I at least got the energy that I was supposed to get from it. I got obsessed with this track and I must have listened to it more than 50 times before I even got into the rest of the album. When I finally started diving in and discovered songs like ‘The Patient,’ ‘Parabol/Parabola,’ ‘Lateralus’ etc. I got hooked to this band. The amount of attention they put into every little detail is admirable. On top of that, there is a lot of influence from something that feels like ‘primal nature sounds’ to me. This is one of my most played albums of all time and I feel like I still don’t fully understand everything it’s about. There’s so much mysticism and so many allegories in the lyrics that it feels like it was written like 100,000 years ago by some kind of ancient civilization.

Favourite track: "The Grudge"

5 records that inspired our upcoming album:

1. Pothamus – Raya

This album by our hometown friends in Pothamus is a real homage to atmosphere through the power of repetition and layering. It’s a hypnotizing journey that drags you in from the first second and doesn’t let go until the end. Even though we have been friends with them for over a decade, we have become musical opposites in some ways. We try to keep people’s attention by having a lot of variation in riffs and tempos in our songs, but Pothamus chooses the path of repetition and still achieves the same goal: to write compelling music that captures your attention. Just like Amenra, they worry about atmosphere first and about riffs later. This was a reminder for us that we can occasionally take it easy when we are structuring songs. Not every riff has to change after 8 bars. Sometimes you can let a certain part breathe by simply repeating it more often so it can really sink in. In this way, ‘Raya’ definitely inspired our new album, and we encourage everyone to discover it for themselves.

Favourite track: "Viso"

2. Snarky Puppy – We Like It Here

This is probably not an album most people would expect in our list of inspirations, but holy shit did this open our minds in terms of what is musically possible. I discovered this only a few months after the release of ‘Unfold the God Man’ and it had been a while since I got this obsessed with one band. They are musical virtuosos who can write and play the most complex music ever, but somehow still manage to make it sound digestible. They have a perfect balance between showing their skills as musicians and creating music that makes you simply want to dance to. They caused me to dive much deeper into music theory because I wanted to understand what the hell was going on when they are playing. I started to experiment with different harmonic structures, different tempos & grooves, bigger melodies etc. Even though most of the new music I wrote in the months after I discovered them wasn’t good at all, it still made me aware of tons of new possibilities that I would have never thought of before. This is probably why we had the courage to write a track for our new album that features a real piano and strings.

Favourite track: "Shofukan"

3. Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

We have our sound guy Victor to thank for introducing us to this insane band. He’s always playing us the most brutal songs he knows when we’re driving to shows but this band really stood out. This is a reminder that the concept of ‘heavy’ music is still not fully explored to its potential. I’ve heard plenty of ridiculously brutal bands but for some reason, Humanity’s Last Breath still sounds like music with a consciously written song structure instead of a random compilation of riffs and drops. To me, this album feels like a testament to our human potential, even though that’s probably not at all what the album was written about. We definitely got some inspiration from this one in terms of writing heavy drops.

Favourite track: "Dehumanize"

4. Tool – Fear Inoculum

Like everyone else in the world, I was beyond excited for the long-awaited new Tool album. And damn, did this exceed my expectations in every way. Obviously, this album sounds very different than all their previous ones – especially in regards of singing style - but that’s what’s so great about it. It’s beautiful to see them adapting to their current circumstances and age in such a graceful way. The production is also stellar and features really interesting effects that have inspired us on our new album.

Favourite track: "Pneuma"

5. The Ocean – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

This is another album that I was anxiously waiting for after having discovered all the other albums by The Ocean. When we first heard the singles like ‘Devonian: Nascent,’ we were blown away. It was like a band who reinvented themselves. Some may prefer the older, more brutal albums by the band, but I’m a big fan of the direction they went into ever since ‘the ‘Centrics’ came out. They have really become masters of tension and atmosphere. What I love most about this album (both parts) is the vocal melodies. I think there is nothing more difficult than finding a perfect vocal melody that complements an instrumental track. There is so much that can go wrong, and you can end up ruining a song, without being able to ‘unhear’ the vocals you wrote and starting fresh. This, in combination with the general dynamics of this album, is what really made me play this one on repeat. The Ocean have always been one of my biggest inspirations and the 2 Phanerozoic albums were no exception. They’ve had a big influence on our writing process.

Favourite track: "Devonian: Nascent"

Photo in header: Christophe Brysse