Tasmanian techmeisters Psycroptic are back with the latest chapter in what is becoming one of the greatest bodies of work ever assembled by an Australian extreme metal band. Divine Council doesn’t deviate too much from what’s gone before, but the Haley Brothers and their co-conspirators make just enough tweaks along the way to keep things engaging for their ever-growing legion of acolytes.

Opening track Rend Asunder finds the band at their most direct, kicking in the doors by way of introduction and stoving the listener’s ears in without so much as a by-your-leave, but over the course of the next eight tracks the band change things up – especially in the vocal department, adding a progressive feel to proceedings that’s a pointer to possible new avenues for the band going forward.

That’s not progressive in a po-faced, bearded way; the female backing vocals that pepper the album add an ethereal juxtaposition – especially on closing track Exitus – that in many ways reinforces the heaviness of the songs they appear in; this is progression, and really expands the sonic palette the band are employing. Similarly, the dissonant, almost symphonic flashes added to the excellent Enslavement show that this is a band capable of stretching the envelope in a way not many death metal bands would contemplate trying. It’s exciting to listen to, and Enslavement – probably the best song on the album, with it’s mixture of unforgiving chug and impassioned vocals – again points to a band ready to grasp the nettle to expand their appeal.

The slow building The Prophets, with it’s flesh-crawling dynamics that cause a real sense of unease until the inevitable explosion – shows the other side of the current Psycroptic coin, and it’s a highlight too, albeit for vastly different reasons. If you’ve ever thought that this is a band that tends to lack light and shade or dynamics in their music – here is a song that’ll set you right.

It’s not all about tinkering with a winning formula, of course – Ashes of Our Empire, like Rend Asunder,  is a straight-up, old fashioned tech death banger that’s going to fire up a few moshpits in the coming months – but the little adjustments effected throughout Divine Council ensure that there’s a new winning formula for the band moving forward. And that’s the kind of progressive thinking I can get on board with.

Divine Council releases on August 5th.