The music seeps in, subtle yet oppressive. I am listening on headphones, tired after a week of soul crushing work routine, and the rich dark tonalities in stereo deepen the wounds of civilization that bleed from my psche. Some very odd sounding guitars (reverbed tremolo that is pitch modulated) ride a backbone of a million doors slamming shut. The grunts and rasps sound similarly distant, adding to the factory-dying-in-a-slow-motion-apocalypse feel. How it manages to have hooks in such a dismal atmosphere is a mystery and a witness to mastery of PHOBOS. Layers come and go and slowly the song morphs into a more industrial piece (still riding that same slamming back beat) before going back to the ill guitars and growls. All this is done without referencing any industrial metal clichés at all. The piece has an overall exhilarating and dizzy sound, like that strange feeling of being high and sick at the same time. This is the third album in a row from PHOBOS that surprises and subdues at the same time. The project refuses to remain static, progressing in ideas, production and packaging.
The second track is even more bludgeoning than the first, despite keeping the same warm reverbed sound. You hear the guitars loud and clear yet the individual notes and chords remain esoteric. It imparts a vibe, mixing the relentless mid-paced ‘beats’, bass, crazy guitars and growled/grunted/rasped vocals in whole that is more like a soundtrack to alienation and isolation in our oh-so-modern world. The bass drone and ill-bient soundscape in the middle do little to lessen the unease, and soon are taken over by the supremely done synthetic drum sound. How can it sound so mechanically aline yet so organic at the same time ? Another PHOBOS mystery, that only deepens with the pitched samples triggered in sync with the snare and the subtle background synth snippets. The guitars make a wondrous, obliterating return driving the song right back to the depths of a post-modern hades, helped along by the gurgling strangely layered vocals.
I think there is something wrong with the water in France. While most of Europe beats the dead horse that is the numbingly clichéd permutations of Extreme Metal, bands like PHOBOS, Blut Aus Nord, Kill The Thrill, Asmodee and Wormfood bend and twist the genres into a debased, dark mass that stands heads above the crop in terms of originality and exhilaration.
The third track starts with the patented chaos that are the treated drum beats, eventually leading to a crescendo of totally killer guitar chords. Its like John Carpenter discovered the 90’s black metal scene. Why don’t horror movie directors license such horrific music, that would make any scene a hundredfold more effective, instead of the boring same old orchestral score and nu-jock rock combo. This track shows what a build-up is like, without resorting to those sad little post-rock tricks. It makes me want to burn my office and kill my boss on Benzedrine. A lesson in violence indeed, Fuck Yeah! Those guitars man, those strange sounding guitars, feedbacking their way into your little head. The ‘song’ dies down in a way that literally suffocates all your hopes and dreams, and good riddance say I.
There are a total of four tracks (with mentioned movements in each) all of which are above thirteen minutes, yet none of them get boring at all, except for you, the token Mastodon fan reading this. Fuck off and die!
The last track starts out beautifully, but instead of My Bloody Valentine rhythm it’s a slow hammering beat (like the Sisters of Mercy drum machine being buggered by the Swans), while the guitars and feedback intertwine around it and each other. A reluctant cavern-ish miasma of vocals and whispers makes occasional appearance. When the main "riff” hits, its like manna from hell! The track even has a short chug part, the only one I have heard since the days of Tectonic Plates. But its that riff that takes the cake, simple yet so majestic and diabolical.
You could try to get this masterpiece, but it's limited to double gatefold hand numbered vinyl copies, and anyone with taste would have got it by now anyways.
Now excuse me while I prepare for tomorrow’s work day. Where’s the napalm?
- Syed Suleiman Ali / may 2012