Interview: Psychomanteum -By: Liam Sweeny
Written by Staff on January 5, 2023
Photo By: Jim Wertman
Heavy metal is gleaming imagination. Pushed to the margins of society, it has lain seed at the margins and climbed beanstalks to play scribes to giants. One of the bands I got into early was Megadeth. They sang about magic and aliens and nukes and it just blew my mind. It’s hard to find that in a fest beat.
Capital district metal band Psychomanteum is not Megadeth, obviously. But they’re great, and as “sci-fi metal,” they give me that childlike thrill that Megadeth did. They’ve planted their own beanstalks at the margins.
I sit with Psychomanteum and we discuss spirit boards.
RRX: You describe yourselves as “sci-fi metal.” I’m interested, interested enough to go on your Bandcamp and hear for myself. Truth be told, I was on my way to your Bandcamp, but I had some extra push, being a sci-fi lover. If you are sci-fi metal, describe for me the world from which your metal is unearthed?
BM: First, thank you for listening and for the kind words!
We all have a love for sci-fi and horror in its many forms. Film is probably our media of choice, although some of us regularly consume novels from various sub-genres.
The subject-matter of our songs range from evil sea creatures to vampiric aliens, time travel and exorcisms. We began using the term “Scifi-Metal” after it was clear this was a unifying thread between our song lyrics and samples. We reserve judgment to switch gears in the future, but science fiction provides an almost unlimited menu of inspirational concepts.
RRX: There’s a thriving metal scene in the 518, and it traces back to the eighties and nineties, which was around the time period that metal started to take off in this country. So, in this area, with the scene we had, there were spectacular explosions and fallen heroes. Who was one fallen hero (band) and what should be known about them?
BM: There have been so many. Not sure if it’s the harsh winters up here or what. That said, we would have to say it was a band called Doomsday. They were a good metal band back in the day. They played out a lot in a van (story behind that) and acted like a band on tour. Didn’t really get the recognition that they deserved.
RRX: Metal is speed and ferocity, even if it’s not considered ‘speed metal.’ Metal Isn’t a lazy drive down a country road; metal is that ride getting carjacked and being pursued by a police shopper. It’s adrenaline, it’s pumping blood, but it’s also music like every other at its core. So, take away speed, take away distortion, what is metal laid bare?
Removing those elements results in a very similar core to punk, which is why those genres have blended so well, over the years. It’s a visceral connection to the music. This can manifest into a myriad of experiences for the listener. There aren’t many types of music that can achieve this on the same level. Maybe some heavier EDM or Dubstep. Certainly classical, probably avant-garde jazz ie. John Zorn’s “Naked City”.
RRX: Things I didn’t know: according to Wikipedia, a psychomanteum “is a small, enclosed area set up with a comfortable chair, dim lighting, and a mirror angled so as not to reflect anything but darkness intended to communicate with spirits of the dead.” So, simple question: have you ever set one of these up and gone a’ talkin’?
BM: Oh, hell no! The occult is terrifying! We’ll stick to writing songs about it.
RRX: You won a 2022 Listen Up award. This was all power to the people, nominated and voted for by the streets. And it was the first of many. Aside from a cool thing, it’s recognition for the band. I’m here, right? Anything you’d like to say to the people that nominated you? Anyone you’d nominate for the next one?
BM: Yeah, we won the Listen Up Award for favorite Metal Band, last year. This was a surprise, honestly. We started in 2017 and had only played a handful of shows before the pandemic hit, so we really had no idea if people were paying any attention. We just sort of hunkered down and continued to write and record.
We couldn’t make it to the Listen Up! ceremony, unfortunately, so here’s our spiel:
Thank you so much to everyone that voted and has given us a chance. Thank you to anyone that’s offered us a show, bought a song, a shirt, or helped us carry our gear.
Most of all, thank you to our patient families for your support, understanding that being a musician is not a choice, it’s a compulsion. I’m sure there’s a medication out there that would help, but we don’t want it!
Nominees for 2023 (in our humble opinion):
Faced (probably the hardest working Metal band in the area)
RRX: Work is the never-ending drive we have, especially as musicians. We are sharks in a pond; we move or we perish. So, I imagine you have projects on deck, singles or EPs, shows coming up next month. Tell us about the tarrow of the toil and the big projects that have sat on the back burners of your lives. What do you say?
The floor is yours.
BM: Thank you for the opportunity! At the moment, we have dedicated our artistic energy towards this band, exclusively. Our debut full length album will be released in January titled “Full Fathom Five”. Our guitar player/singer does the recording and producing himself under the moniker Brain Studios and our album release will be at The Strand Theater in Glens Falls on Friday, January 27th. We will be opening for an amazing Nine Inch Nails tribute band and it will be great to see everyone there!
Please also check out our existing song releases (some of which will be on the album) at psychomanteum518.bandcamp.com We will have a store front there with other merch, soon. We also have songs available on the all the major streaming services where we make 0.0005 cents per play!