Thought Chamber: Psykerion

Spaced-out prog metal from the San Francisco outfit.

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Let’s address the elephant in the room before digging into the San Francisco proggers’ second album: unless you’re an ardent lover of sci-fi tales you may find the concept running through Psykerion pretty tough going. These tales recount a boy’s travels in his spaceship to the Planet Twinkie (or something).

But comic-book fantasy lyrics aside, the music has a neat combination of originality and punch, something lost on the myriad boilerplate prog metal acts out there. Rather than simply referring to blueprints, Thought Chamber incorporate jazz fusion and 70s prog into their metallic bluster, giving their music an adventurous streak which matches their technical ability.

Centred around guitarist Michael Harris, and with Spock’s Beard singer Ted Leonard on vocals, the band have managed to surpass their daring 2007 debut, Angular Perceptions. Whether that’s the Hispanic staccato that surfaces on Psykerion: The Question, the Richard Cheese-esque The Black Hole Lounge or Yes-inspired Transcend, it’s a rewarding, challenging listen.

That concept will charm some listeners, and irk others. Regardless of which camp you may fall into, musically, this is a gripping album.