P.H.O.B.O.S. is best described by the description I found under their Bandcamp page, which is a "Purveyor of uneasy listening and audio sickness since '00." The French project really got its start in 2001 when they released their debut EP "Proto". Their primary influences on this album were industrial, doom, and noise. Throughout their next couple of release, P.H.O.B.O.S. primarily stayed within the realm of guitar-oriented noise making and blistering sound effects. Some of their products, especially on vinyl, have gone on to completely sell-out.

Their latest album, then, is an eight-track drive through brand new territory. While experimental music and industrial blasts are part of the project's repertoire on "Bleaker Beater", so is dub music. Rather than playing nicely with the genre, however, P.H.O.B.O.S. takes it to a new extreme by decimating everything we know about the genre. While the influences are still on the album, the dub beats are manipulated with sonic experiments and blasts of industrial mayhem. Though P.H.O.B.O.S. dives into unheard of arenas, their ability to distort, manipulate, and control electronic output shines for the most part throughout "Bleaker Beater".

I feel as if much of the mood for "Bleaker Beater" is set within the first song on the album 'Pyrocene Antibodies'. Like a tense scene in a movie, drops of bass and a steady stream of eerie noise pop in. Around the fifty second mark, the main driving force of the album is set forth; driving drum'n'bass beats stretched out and absolutely destroyed by the analogue grit of P.H.O.B.O.S.. The haunting background chants help fill the mood with further dread. My only complaint on this song is that the vocals are much too distorted for the single; they muddy the quality of P.H.O.B.O.S.'s otherwise pristine noise work.

'Haemophiliac Stomp' is another piece of decadent noise. It shifts in tone from these (as the title suggests) stomp-like bassline rhythms. This is intertwined with what I can consider heavier chorus sections. If there is a slow song on the album, it can be find in 'Basalt Ganglia'. Filled with glitchy textures and further noise-over-dub pairings, it has become a song that I slow nod to every time this album plays.

'Hyperkalem Pathogens' is a song that I can't really describe any differently than I have the others so far, but there is a moment around the two-minute and fifty-second mark that has me shudder every time it plays. It is like a constant ringing in the ear and I hate hearing it; it's one part of the song that, even on replays, I skip over. Which, coincidentally, make me want to skip the song entirely. I was not too huge a fan of 'Procallapsolog' either. As much as I loved the crushing industrial bass found within the song, I hated a lot of the higher pitched sound effects found within. There's also a sheer lack of structure within the song which makes it appear as if it was done by an amateur. While this may be under the experimental belt, I don't like the slap-and-stick method.

This is perhaps one of the most straightforward songs on the album; demonic whispers crawl alongside intoxicated dub beats and harsh electric currents. I felt as if 'Granulahar Toxin' was another one of the band's more straightforward songs. I felt as if this track was more or less along the lines of industrial-techno than it was dub, but I suppose it's a matter of BPM at this point. Either way, I enjoyed it. The final track is a denouement and testament to what P.H.O.B.O.S. has built on "Bleaker Beater", focusing more on disturbed d'n'b than anything else. It closes on an equally harsh and danceable note.

P.H.O.B.O.S.' "Bleaker Beater" will very much be a niche album, to say the very least. Combining dub, industrial, noise, and general electronic filth is not something that will appeal to mass audiences. But, if you have the patience and tolerance to give the album a shot, then you just might find something that you would have never expected to enjoy. That happened to me as I've never really found a dub release that I can enjoy. Sure, there are some rough parts and a few patches that could be stitched here and there, but its overall an enjoyable drag through the mud.


- Steven Gullotta / dec 2021 (07/10)