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The one and only major-label release from L.A. rockers Shrine, Psycha displays the group's dynamic approach to hardcore and metal. Led by female vocalist Xan, Shrine developed a small but passionate following with their intense performances and Xan's extreme stage persona. Xan (sounding like a cross between Björk and Perry Farrell) is joined on this record by guitarist Steven Hufsteter, drummer Stephen Kong, and bassist Kelly Lemieux. Noisy and aggressive, Shrine's delivery teeters on the edge of punk, but the occasional ballad and sudden mood shifts -- which include jazz, speed metal, and even Middle Eastern melodicism -- make Shrine hard to label. Xan stretches out nicely on tracks like "Bigger Than Life" and "Sadistic Love" (sadomasochistic themes appear on several Psycha numbers), as does Hufsteter throughout the record with some complicated single-note flurries. The performances, while impressive, are also a little grating due to a lack of refined material. Without something new, memorable, or just plain listenable in the songwriting department, all the stylistic vision and powerful performances seem meaningless, making Psycha a bust.

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