Amongst all the Doom sub-genres – and you can get a vague idea of the varying degrees of aberration the different combinations can result in by checking our list of styles - Industrial Doom is certainly the least well represented. And don't ask me why, I have no idea! It's even surprising in a way that those two soundscapes, one bleak and desperate, the other cold and rough, haven't met and mingled more often. The first effect is merely a deepening and a radicalisation of both genres' depressive properties. Your math teacher taught you that minus multiplied by minus resulted in plus? Wrong! Forget all that; Indus x Doom = fucking negative, life-long therapy.
P.H.O.B.O.S. (the dots come with the package) is a French band that has been around for a few years, evolving around the collective of artists involved in Blut Aus Nord and Spektr. Those three projects do share at least one similarity: a certain taste for chaos. Malaise and aural deconstruction. While the last two can still be labelled Black Metal, P.H.O.B.O.S. are plain Doom. And believe me, it's good to see a band staying faithful to the path they chose from the very beginning without yielding to the songs of the Postcore whores. No easy bullshit with our French fellows. What you get is a soundtrack of the end of the world made of violent totalitarian visions.
The album has the density of metal melted in apocalyptic blast furnaces. Except without the sweltering warmth: the sonic nightmare organized by the band is cold as death. It portrays a world collapsing for ever. It depicts its painfully slow crumbling - just the downward movement: no start, no end, a systematic destruction forever, a moment of which is captured for the time of the album. As long as the word can be used, you can say that 'Atonal Hypermnesia' is mostly instrumental: the voices are reduced to some rare appearances; and they don't sound more than a vague memory of the world of the living, a ghost of humanity. Most of the time, the album, whose tracks you can't really tell apart, uncoils telluric tremors stuck in a deadly routine. The mechanical pulsation, as though coming out of an evil forge, is now and then animated by some sensitive reptile riffing with a stifling quality that manages to create a tunnel of light where air circulates. These moments when you can identify a musician playing are welcome: they are brief moments of human connection before the big earth-moving operations come again and plough what is left of your skull.
More than notes, the band uses textures to illustrate some of the most unpleasant mental abysses, bleak textures, drum motifs running like a circle unit, BM voices roaring, spitting vicious vomit behind pitch-black veils. It's music turned into a monstrous Meccano violently organized around an ever-droning matrix. Still, happily for us melody-lovers, they are still capable of subtle variations - always set in unbalance, of course, you can't have it all, but it happens: sometimes, the chaotic scenery turns almost atmo (in the In Slaughter Natives-Skinny Puppy-way) releasing a nightmarish mood mixed up with some shamanic chants reminiscent of Halo Manash.
It requires patience and a certain degree of masochism too, in order to go through the throbbing clashes organized by P.H.O.B.O.S.. The project is apparently conceived as a laboratory for noisy experimental abstract music. It's a sonic alienation that doesn’t escape its stylistic limits: after all, Indus Doom is Indus Doom, and the fans know what to expect: hell on earth. Somehow though, I would have liked that maelstrom of violent emotions to be even more chaotic, more schizophrenic, like the telluric manifesto (excuse the quote) of Opaque Lucidity or Haiku Funeral: it's a bit too under control. There's not enough room given to the guitar work, not enough variation in the vocals. It's a bit too systematic and in my opinion, it hinders the intensity the band wants to convey. Well, that's it. P.H.O.B.O.S. 'Atonal Hypermnesia': You'd better hold a firm grip because it is fucking soul-destroying.
- Bertrand Marchal / June 2012