I never thought I would hear back from the Psychobliss crew after the Dreams of Dystopia incident. I reached out to Dan Stollings during that time to let him know we'd love to hear his next output and there were no hard feelings meant. I never actually expected to be contacted. There was a single new Psychobliss track after the EP that made it's way onto YouTube that actually seemed to indicate some progression in the right direction and then all went dark for a bit. Severed Receptors is the current incarnation of Psychobliss. The name change is appropriate, as the band sounds a whole lot different here. Severed Receptors, the self titled debut is a step in the right direction for the band sonically. However, it's weird. I actually found Psychobliss to be more entertaining, even if Severed Receptors is technically a much better effort. Psychobliss was a really weird textural presentation that failed with the force of a pumpkin being hurled into the air by a trebuchet and consequently coming to rest embedded in the car windshield of the siege device's operator. But at least it was weird. Severed Receptors is generic in many ways, even if it outwardly doesn't appear so. The melodies and rhythms are straight out of the early 00's wave of bands that had that groovy kind of Gothic and dark sound. Within Temptation, Leaves' Eyes... Tristania and Evanescence... the list runs on.
To touch on specific songs, "I Become The Night," has the most memorable intro, but it stands out from a lot of the other tracks in that there is nothing anywhere else on the release that is as memorable or even comes close to being as strong of a hook. It reminds me of some of the slower, catchier parts of Israthoum's Black Poison and Shared Wounds. Opening track "Nothing Remains" is the most black metal track here but the repetitiveness is a bit obnoxious. "Blood Descendants" is basically Evanescence with some screamed parts. Kyla's clean vocals are best on "Ruins of Eden" and she definitely sounds a lot stronger as a vocalist but there is still a sense of reservedness. In some moments, such as midway though this track where she more-than-less talks her way through the lyrics, her vocals can sound a bit amateurish. Her screamed vocals aren't exceptional in any way, can be a bit monotonous, lack inflection and be held back by the strict rhythmic patterns she presents. More flow would add some emotion and depth to what is essentially presented as the standout feature of the release. The music is generally a salad to feature her vocals. Dan Stollings once again offers some vocals, here in "Cold and Callous," which aren't too bad. On Dreams... he sounded impish, sickly, shy and nasally all at once so it's a big improvement. Another standout aspect of Severed Receptors are some of the in between song ambiance and atmosphere, which is actually done really well but might be over-used. It cuts up the flow and pacing. Some tracks would be best to simply just launch into, like "I Become The Night."
If the Stollings and their now complete band can imbue some of the strange timbres and textures of the Psychobliss material, with the better production and the simple verse-chorus form evidenced in the Severed Receptors material and still somehow manage to incorporate some of the moodiness, they'd have a much more original and distinguishable sound. Still, I don't see this appealing to fans of black metal, or to anything particularly avantgarde, since the material isn't complex or inventive. It's really only going to be enjoyed by fans of the above mentioned bands that want something a little heavier but are too afraid to delve into the real underground. If Severed Receptors can find some sway with these listeners through radio or mainstream publications, their name might become a common utterance in the halls of middle schools and amongst teenagers sporting too-baggy black jeans, wallet chains and spiked chokers. To be fair though, I haven't seen anyone in a hot topic in years and, unfortunately, there is a possibility that Severed Receptors has missed their chance to cash in on this trend.
I was originally going to correlate the whole Stollings / Psychobliss / Severed Receptors saga to the classic 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein but I felt it was going to be too much of stretch to cast Dan Stollings as Dr. Frankenstein's Monster and Kyla as The Monster's Mate since I couldn't really figure out who Dr. Frankenstein would be played by. Abstractly, Dr. Frankenstein could be represented by Severed Receptors - the band as a single entity - and the band actually created the monsters out of two people who prior were normal. It was a humorous thought for me to think of it that way but because this was better than I expected, I can't really call the Stollings' monsters anymore. They're more like Harker and Mina of Dracula fame. Let's hope Van Helsing shows up at some point to remedy some of their musical woes.