without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
The main members of Enslaved played death metal instead of black metal in their early days, which wasn’t uncommon for many second wave black metal bands. The boys of Enslaved were very young at the time, but they played with heart and enough skill required in making a song worth anyone’s time. The three tracks here would become their only recorded material as the band Phobia, but let it not be disregarded as something without value.
I had a feeling that Grutle was capable of more than just screeches and screams like he was doing in Enslaved, and this demo shows all his capabilities. These growls are malevolent by the very breath of each exhale – carnivorous, throaty, and demonic. The lyrics aren’t comprehendible, though that’ll be the least of your worries, especially in the second song where the diabolically crushing riff is accompanied by his vocals closing in for the kill. One thing I forget is that the production for this is very quiet, although clear once you have the volume up to identify what’s going on.
There’s a ghostly atmosphere present with this demo and the otherworldly tone that lingers exists because of Bjørnson’s contributions with the synths. Other bands choose gimmicky roles for their keys, but Bjørnson is strictly using them to dab those eerie notes to chill your spin and cause the hairs on your neck to stand. While that’s going on, the guitars are hammering away with relentless thickness – overwhelming, fat, and barbaric with a deep reverberating boom probably because of the bass. You get to hear the bass individually alongside the guitars most of the time, but the booms are all over the place and will eclipse your speakers deafeningly.
The drumming is consistent but largely forgettable because of how every other instrument is loud and thick. The drums in comparison are frail and hushed, so all the attention is focused on the riffs, vocals, and atmosphere. The drum bass is hilarious though since it sounds like someone’s hitting a pillow with a baseball bat – figure in the blast beats and now someone’s hitting the pillow repeatedly with a baseball bat.
Phobia’s strongpoints are the riffs and the atmosphere specifically – you’ll definitely feel like you’re tuning in to hear a vintage recording of some unspeakable horror. The legitimacy of the music is backed by strong songwriting, too, and the track lengths don’t do justice to how long these songs actually feel like when you’re listening to them. I highly doubt anyone will be able to obtain the actual cassette nowadays, but thankfully there are downloads online where you can access this and hear it for yourself.