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French rednecks? You'd better believe it - 95%

gk, October 5th, 2008

Phazm first came to my attention in a little half page article in Metal Hammer where the band spoke about how they were dirty French rednecks and they played live with dummy rotting corpses as stage props. Seemed interesting enough and when I got my hands on the featured album, Antebellum Death ‘N Roll it more than lived up to my expectations with its dirty, death metal meets Motorhead meets doom sound. It also helped that the album was fucking heavy.

So this month sees the band release its third album, Cornerstone of the Macabre and it’s a fucking blast. Right from album opener Love Me Rotten (Love Me True) with its Swansong meets Motorhead sound I knew this was going to be a bit special and the rest of the songs certainly live up to the opening belter. The band has gotten a lot tighter in the two years since their last album and the songwriting too has become a lot more focused. While Antebellum was great fun it was also a bit disjointed when the band decided to incorporate a hundred different styles into the music. Cornerstone… in comparison is a much more focused and stripped down beast. At the heart of this album is a heavy, dirty rock n roll heart that’s beating steadily and it is this that lifts these songs to something above the ordinary. The death metal, doom, sludge and even blues rock swagger is simply the garnish.

Stand out tracks include the awesome The Worm on the Hook which sounds like a slowed down, drunk and crawling version of early Entombed, the rock n roll meets violent black metal of Damnation and the acoustic instrumental Strange Song which goes off on a country/ blues path. These three songs though are just the precursor to the best part of the album. Welcome to My Funeral is as solid doom metal song that’s probably the best song here while The Old Smell of Meat is pure Stockholm death metal meets dirty garage rock and Mucho Mojo is all blues rock swagger complete with a spoken word vocal and blues leads. It’s this threesome that really elevates Cornerstone of the Macabre from being a fun album to being something a bit special that you can keep coming back to.

However, having said that, the quality of songs never really varies on the album and there’s absolutely no filler material here. There’s a consistency in songwriting that’s quite impressive and while the groove of The End sounds vaguely similar to the rock n roll groove of Damnation it’s a minor quibble as both songs are miles apart. I’m really nit picking here and looking for points of criticisms but there really isn’t much that I can find fault with. There is a pointless cover of Metallica’s Damage Inc. though which is alright as far as covers go and the album ends with the very Swedish sounding Adrift which is the lengthiest song on the album and also a bit slower and melodic than most of the songs on offer here.

While my praise for Cornerstone of the Macabre is unconditional I have to say that the band might be a bit of an acquired taste if you’ve never heard them before. At the same time, if you like your metal dirty, loud, unapologetic and with brass balls then you’ll find plenty to like and even love here.

Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com