A lot of the metal bands out there who like to fancy themselves as the heaviest of the heaviest really ought to sit down and listen to some P.H.O.B.O.S..
It's been a good minute since this French monstrosity of the mechanical apocalypse has graced listeners with a new full length album, but in 2018 here we find ourselves with Phlogiston Catharsis. There's not much to see here in the way of "new ideas" for P.H.O.B.O.S., but considering the fact that their colossal blend of doom, industrial, and black metal is already quite unique when compared to the rest of the metal spectrum, there really doesn't need to be. As listeners familiar with the band's earlier work have become accustomed to, on Phlogiston Catharsis one can find all their trademark techniques: repetitive, doom-influenced rhythms that get quite groovy at points, undershades of black metal riffage to help give the music a darker and more trancelike edge, and of course that cold, pounding drum machine that really reinforces the music's cold, industrial atmosphere.
Despite the fact that it doesn't really shake up the game too hard for P.H.O.B.O.S., Phlogiston Catharsis is nonetheless a fine example of how this band has really had the tendency to maintain a common aesthetic across their releases while slightly changing up the formula with each one. Comparatively speaking, in this regard Phlogiston Catharsis seems to have a greater vocal presence than past releases, with the gravelly yells of Frédéric Sacri appearing at a considerably higher frequency than with past releases. Songwriting wise, it seems to follow more in the nature of Atonal Hypermnesia in that the black and doom metal aspects of the music are more balanced out, as opposed to having the doom sound dominating like on the band's first two albums. And lastly, the production definitely seems to be the finest from the band yet, being all around better mixed and audible than possibly any prior release while somehow not compromising the hazy, gritty aura about the music.
Although P.H.O.B.O.S. have demonstrated remarkable consistency across their discography and it's quite difficult to pick a favorite release of theirs, it wouldn't be too far fetched to say that Phlogiston Catharsis is the band's best effort yet. Here the fusion of the three dimensions of their sound (doom, black, and industrial metal) feels tighter than ever, making the album enjoyable from many different perspectives, and the increased vocal presence makes the music a bit more impactful and easier to latch onto without it becoming overly accessible. For fans of the more extreme members of the doom metal family, or just for those who like heavy effing jamz in general, Phlogiston Catharsis is a must listen. Easy album of the year contender in this reviewer's book.
The lava beckons.
- Apothecary / sep 2018 (9/10)