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P.H.O.B.O.S. > Phlogiston Catharsis > Reviews
P.H.O.B.O.S. - Phlogiston Catharsis

Phlogiston is a real word, I looked it up - 95%

Mitchfynde, January 18th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Transcending Obscurity Records

This album was a total anomaly for me. I don’t like Blut Aus Nord or dissonant black metal, I can’t stand industrial metal (not even Godflesh). Hell, I don’t even like the back catalog of the band in question.

When I first heard the intro to Zam Alien Canyons, I was fucking dumbfounded. It was the most... well, alien thing I’d ever heard. But, hey, I don’t like music like this! So I tried to blow it off, but the pulse stuck with me. I was obsessed. I had to hear more of this forbidden alien music. I’m glad I gave in.

Phlogiston Catharsis is pretty much a masterpiece of its genre. The down-tuned, absolutely cavernous guitar riffs sound as though they are bounding around alien planets and even space itself. You may even get a sense of dread, as though some gigantic monster is looming over you.

There are a flurry of effects going on in the background of the record. It’s sometimes hard to tell if it is synth, guitar pedals, or maybe some sort of programmed noise track. Either way, it’s horrifying. It’s something like a wall of sound, only much more dynamic than that. It’s not a bombardment of noise. The sound sort of ebbs and flows between louder bits.

The drums are totally hypnotic and pulsing. Maybe not the nicest sounding drum machine in the world, but I almost feel like that’s the point. It’s raw and it fits very well with the overall sound of the record. Most importantly, it holds that pulse that is just so crucial for a good industrial experience.

The vocals are very much in the black metal school of doing things. Not a high shriek, but a mid-ranged rasp. Chanting, looming over you like an alien overlord trying to make sure you know they are now in control. There are these surprising moments of melody in the guitar. They are not exactly sweet melodies, but melodies nonetheless. It prevents the album from being a one-dimensional face-stomper. It gives some refuge from the cosmic storms.

If you wanted to leave Earth in 2018, P.H.O.B.O.S. were ready to take you.

Godflesh & Drug Honkey inspired dissonance - 95%

ayersian, November 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Transcending Obscurity Records (Digipak)

While Ministry was busy tweaking electronic sounds with dance grooves in late-’80s Chicago, Justin Broadrick and his post-Napalm Death band Godflesh bubbled up from the grim industrial landscape of Birmingham, England. Traditionally, Godflesh have been credited with pioneering the industrial metal subgenre, with countless bands sprouting up in their wake and spanning thirty years of noise abuse and utter cacophony.

France’s P.H.O.B.O.S. certainly know their way around the industrial-metal circuit. Founder and notorious noisenik Frédéric Sacri has been crafting inner-ear damage for nearly two decades, specifically on 2005’s Tectonics, 2008’s Anœdipal, and 2014’s Triunity, a split with fellow countrymen Blut Aus Nord. Phlogiston Catharsis is the band’s latest, ultra-ebon slab, and Sacri tempers the noisy chaos with the team of guitarist/keyboardist Mani Ann-Sitar and bassist Magnus Larssen.

What sets this apart from most industrial albums is the doom-laden drums: programmed death knells of cavernous intensity, further darkened by black-metal-esque atmospherics. Sacri’s flirtation with the black-metal/avant-garde atmospherics from his collaboration with Blut Aus Nord makes these new compositions even more unique than the monolithic doom offerings of his previous material. Streetcleaner-era Godflesh is an obvious touchstone here, but the foreboding ambiance of Phlogiston Catharsis leans more toward labelmates Drug Honkey and their ugly noisescapes. The Axis of Perdition deserves a reference here, though P.H.O.B.O.S. sport a doomier and more focused attack.

Opener “Biomorphorror” is a chromatic death of corrugated chords, but the smothering becomes even more focused on “Zam Alien Canyons.” Each riff is cavernous, echoing off dark stone walls of said canyons, with Ann-Sitar’s subtly melodic keyboards grinding down jagged corners as if polished by millennia-long sandstorms. Sacri’s processed death vocals in “Aurora Sulphura” are distorted and throaty, like Nick Sagias’ Soulstorm at their peak, circa 1992’s Darkness Visible. Sacri adds Middle Eastern chants to “Aljannashid” to color the coruscant mix. The slight melodicism of “Neurasthen Logorrh,” however, shakes off the bonds of gloom temporarily to embrace an ugly cross between Jesu and Author & Punisher. “Smothered in Scoria” takes a different tack with Sacri’s Darkthrone-esque vocals and relentless pummeling, even boasting a beautiful and understated guitar solo to close the album.

What Sacri and company have created on this album is a mottled, writhing noise nest of dread with a definitive exigency that belies their prodigious talents. As more bands add noise, power electronics, et al. to their hardware to push the boundaries of extreme metal, P.H.O.B.O.S. seem to have the faultless balance of industrial, doom, and melody that will propel Phlogiston Catharsis to the top of many best-of-the-year lists.