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REVIEW: Psykup – “CTRL + ALT + FUCK”

We live in a world where our senses are overloaded from every angle: constant technological updates, social media, news and even music are more pervasive than ever before. Progressive metal unit Psykup are the soundtrack for such chaotic, overwhelming times. CTRL + ALT + FUCK is a ten-track record that is irreverent, hilarious, heavy and relentlessly experimental. The French group’s sixth overall release, and their first since 2008’s We Love You All, CTRL + ALT + FUCK returns with a revived, frantic energy.

“Violent Brazilian Massage” is a comparatively straightforward opener for such a frenetic record. Merging modern thrash, mathcore and nu metal, the band (and its vocalists) quickly demonstrate their genre-spanning breadth. Comparisons to Italian genre-benders Destrage are immediately apparent, but Psykup focus less on technicality and more on unbridled energy.

“We Will Win This War” is epic and catchy, with sing-along sections, desperate screams, and pummeling rhythms. It is a song that is both intense and playful, a persisting dichotomy throughout CTRL + ALT + FUCK. “SSanta ClauSS (Write Me a Letter)” opens with a positively creepy rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and chiming clean guitars, before an almost System of A Down-esque riff occurs. Closing with the jingle bell-accompanied refrain ‘Santa Claus is tired of humans/Santa Claus has given up’, you might get a sense of just how ridiculous Psykup can be.

This brazen bizarreness continues with “Shampoo The Planet”. Hilarious lyrics aside (‘Let’s put the jerks in line/And find a shampoo they like/And wash their heads/Everyone will feel so great/No one will want to fight and mess their hair’), Psykup’s penchant for hooky riffs is acutely apparent here. Funky verses are intermingled with a riff that manages to be heavy, groovy and catchy all at once. The group’s experimentation continues on “Cooler Than God”, which is the most successful, entertaining incorporation of horns into metal that I’ve ever heard. “The Long Ride Home” closes the record with an odd layering of frenzied acoustic guitar strums and electric guitar chugs, reprising briefly with “The Long Ride Home (Sunrise)” before leaving the listener energized, amused, intrigued, and confused.

Psykup are no newcomers to the metal scene, having started in 1995 and adding five full-length releases to their catalogue between 2001 and 2008. Their 2017 return showcases Psykup’s matured attention to melody and detail alongside convoluted instrumentation and absurd lyricism. Where We Love You All was composed of six tracks that generally ran close to ten minutes each, CTRL + ALT + FUCK is much more concise and fast-paced, running through ten songs in less than fifty minutes. Well-written yet far from contrived, this release sets a pace that few bands half their age would be able to keep, and does so with both accuracy and reckless abandon. However, due to their experience as a group, they never quite careen into unsalvageable territory. Psykup’s CTRL + ALT + FUCK is a dangerously unpredictable yet cleverly deliberate set of songs that are fun, heavy and worthy of repeat listens.

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Score: 9/10

Notable Tracks: “We Will Win This War”; “Cooler Than God”

FFO: Destrage, System of A Down

Follow Psykup on Facebook and  and YouTube. Pre-order CTRL + ALT + FUCK here.

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