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Gloomy Expressions - 85%

Arjunthebeast, June 17th, 2010

Phlebotomized is one of those bands that takes hold of its listener (well, at least me!) and invites a great deal of attention. They were a very strange musical group that was quite honestly ahead of their time. In some ways their ideas were not well served by the budget limitations that they had to deal with on all of their recordings. But like true artists, they managed to overcome this and made several key albums in the progressive death metal history.

This EP contains two tracks (the last two) from the earlier demo “Devoted to God” as well as three new tracks. I threw down 70 bones to get a hold of one of these babies (supposedly only like 2000 or so exist) and I can say that it was worth it beyond the fact that it is a rarity. It is a crushing and unique release that should be checked out by the band’s fans and newcomers to the blood drawing clinic that is Phlebotomized. Hell, I didn’t even know there was a word for blood drawing before I came across this group around a year ago! Talk about vocabulary booster!

For listeners who are familiar with this group and are looking for more material to listen to, this release sounds much closer to “Immense Intense Suspense” than to “Skycontact” which should come as no surprise due to its chronological date of release. What makes it different is that the production is of a lower quality than those two masterpieces (if you haven’t listened to them, stop reading this and do so!) and the fact that there is little to no violin. Instead, a keyboard fills in where the listen would expect a violin if it were “IIS”. The keys are weakest link of the album but they still work quite well in many sections. This happens in a lot of metal from the time that had higher ambitions than many of its brethren so I take this weakness with a grain of salt.

The riffs in “Mustardgas” and the other album tracks are quite awesome to be simply put, and well please any metal fan who likes his death metal old school. It definitely sounds full of wonder and darkness, something that most modern death metal lacks. The performances from all the members are also all very good as well as they are full of energy and emotion. The vocals are also very good and fun to growl along with.

The speed of the release varies from very doomy slow sections to some blast-beating from the kit and squealing from the lead guitars. The grind influences come through in these speedier parts and bring to mind dISEMBOWELMENT and other doom/grind hybrids. Some of the transitions are clumsy, but as with their later releases this suddenness becomes rather pleasing to the ear because the band is very talented even at this mid-period stage in their development and make it work.

The lyrics are as usual very strong and thoughtful (if a bit cumbersome, especially in the title track) and will make you think. It makes me sad that there is a very limited amount of material from this group because they really did have a unique way of expressing themselves and I wonder where they would have taken us after “SkyContact.” This album and the rest of group’s catalog is essential listening for metal fans who want something both kvlt and of a high quality. Good luck in finding a copy and enjoy!