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P.H.O.B.O.S. > Tectonics > Reviews
P.H.O.B.O.S. - Tectonics

Chaos and malevolence made flesh - 95%

Writhingchaos, January 13th, 2016

I seriously don’t know what to say about these guys. I mean yeah enough superlatives have been used, from apocalyptic to cyber industrial doom to doom drone and whatnot, but just like a handful of bands around the globe, these guys tread a unique path as far as their music is concerned. After listening to the 2nd song itself, it’s pretty apparent that the album is aptly named. The grinding, crushing and churning of the tectonic plates beneath the surface as they destroy and repair the earth’s crust over millions of years, which is exactly the feeling this album evokes. Or maybe the collision of the KT asteroid with the Earth that wiped out the dinosaurs and the subsequently charred crater of the aftermath, spread across several thousand miles across the Mexican Peninsular. Okay, my mind does wander after all.

My favourite songs would have to be “Wisdoom” and “Monochrome Red”. The opening fucking riff of ‘Wisdoom’ itself will smash your face into shards with a titanium pillar, it’s THAT heavy. However all the songs have the same characteristics of dread and horror that an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic scenario would induce. ‘Monochrome Red’ has a claustrophobically menacing atmosphere about it that I can’t help but love. The heaviness of this album is equivalent to being crushed under 20 stacked jumbo jets while your head is being smashed open by a 50 ton hammer. Like I said it’s THAT heavy. You can ignore the numerics if you like.

Hard as it might be to believe, it’s more brutal and vicious than most BDM [Brutal Death Metal] bands out there who have to end up relying on blast beats for brutality. And that guitar tone! Fuck!! One hell of a sonic punch folks. Feels like the sound of hell oozing out from a supermassive black hole. This is no accessible easy listening album with choruses, hooks or catchy riffs. Only a droning, malevolent and almost psychedelic atmosphere throughout the album with peaks and valleys. You don’t listen to this album as much as you experience every minute of it, soaking up the dread and the bloodcurdling atmosphere that relentlessly grinds your senses hollow. Out of all the genre boxing, I have to say that the tag Industrial Death/Doom is the most appropriate one for these psychotic Frenchmen.

Although just as other reviewers have pointed out, it does get pretty overwhelming when listening to the whole album at once. I mean c’mon it’s hard to get obliterated into dust 8 freaking times over and over again and STILL enjoy the fuck out of it, without getting a tad bit exhausted. Plus the slightly excessive song lengths don’t really help either. By the time I reach ‘Inseminator/Matrix’, I literally feel like I’ve run a goddamn marathon. Listen to one half of the album at a time and you’ll be much more likely to dig this on (at least) a weekly basis.

However that’s a minor complaint and don’t let that deter you from getting your hands on this beast. Then again I really can’t see metalheads outside of the industrial metal and doom/death metal circles enjoying this album. Those of you who happen to be fans of the aforementioned genres or open-minded enough to venture out on a trip into the unknown however, prepared to have your senses obliterated. See you on the other side. Of course, that’s assuming you even make it past the 3rd song without your cranium imploding.

P.S: Whatever the fuck you do, don’t drop acid to this album; you probably won’t make it. Slight correction, you DEFINITELY won’t make it. You have been officially warned. Listen at your own peril.

Heavier than an asteroid hitting the Earth in 2012 - 90%

Sigillum_Dei_Ameth, December 9th, 2010

Taken from the band's main website: "p.h.o.b.o.s. : unknown anguish, son of the god of war, or chaotically revolving martian satellite ?"

P.H.O.B.O.S. is a band that has one objective; to kill you. It wants you dead. If you can imagine a smoke-filled blackened post-apocalyptic planet earth where it's been charred due to a massive 100 year thermo nuclear war where the clouds have been filled with the black ash, smoke, and soot of a once-thriving planet filled with living species, now all that lays is twisted metal, a few skeletons scattered across the wasteland and all H2O completely gone, then my friend that is what this band has succeeded in doing.

Aside from the metaphors that P.H.O.B.O.S. conjures up, musically they are a different breed of Industrial. No nice electronic arpeggios. No cheesy techno beats. No catchy little dance tunes. No, this is the type of Industrial that is akin to that of the bleak sound scape of David Lynch's "Eraserhead." I may have to disagree with the label has given them because Industrial Doom is almost too lite for this band to hold. The Doom part especially due to the fact that from what I hear is a freaky combination of the malevolence of Godflesh, the grind of early Swans, the distortion of Skullflower, and a little bit of the Young Gods thrown into the mix. The Doom is just natural because the tempo never goes past 4X4 playing and if you know the bands above then you'll understand when I mean about it being natural. There's no Black Sabbath riffs going on here....yes you could say, but due to the monolithic atmosphere it's just going to come out one way or another. I honestly don't see any way these guys could be melodic. And the vocals? They could be human. But I don't know any human who could scream with seething, burning, snarling rage like Frederic Sacri. Really scary shit.

It's really hard to pin-point certain songs on "Tectonics" because it's a series of having Mike Tyson constantly knocking you on your ass. When one round ends, another begins and you just have to take it. Of course certain songs hit harder than others which makes it even more difficult to listen to. The only song I could possibly begin to even go near is "Gregarious"...if you can make it past that song without running away, whimpering and whining like a stray dog with it's tail tucked between it's legs and one of them broken then you definitely more endurance to listen to the rest of the album. Abandon all hope ye who enter.

Why Isn't This Better Known? - 95%

Ribos, March 27th, 2009

I am constantly disappointed by the offerings of "Industrial" metal. Ignoring the fact that "Industrial" seems to mean more Nine Inch Nails than Throbbing Gristle nowadays, in metal it generally seems to be the excuse for using one shitty riff per song and dancey (at best) synthesizers. For the former, I'd like to blame Godflesh. As blasphemous as it may be, I think the group has done more wrong than good for metal. At best, their songs were slowly grinding, roiling masses of doom and despair and other icky things. But there you have Streetcleaner, and that's it. You start talking about Selfless, Pure, and the like, and you're getting in Fear Factory. Fear Factory is only one step away from Machine Head, as far as I'm concerned.

PHOBOS blows Streetcleaner out of the water. THIS is how industrial doom metal should sound. Slow, crushing riffs and clanging machine-like percussion. No, I don't mean "drum machine-like," I mean "giant angry war engine factory machine-like." It also strikes me as the first industrial metal I've heard that sounds genuinely angry. The riffs themselves sound angry! Oh, sure, Al had some spite for the Bush administration with his last three Ministry albums, but there was always a bit of laughing mockery attached. PHOBOS does not understand laughter. PHOBOS understands rage. Seething, festering, inevitably building rage. And if this isn't apparent by the time you're halfway through "Gregarious," perhaps you'll find Britney Spears more on your level of comprehension. Perhaps.

The music is not what I'd call complex. You've got your guitar, percussion, vocals, and sometimes keyboard layers. The keyboards are never intrusive, and never try to inject any melodic shit into the pieces; things move too slowly for that to ever work. They simply provide some harmonic layers here and there to further fill out this absolutely massive sound, alongside background samples that add more sounds to the atmosphere. The vocals? I don't know what the guy's going on about... sometimes I can make out a few words here and there (hey, there's the title of "Monochrome Red!"), but lyrics don't matter. All that does matter is that he sounds angry about something or another, and that it fits the otherwise inhuman quality of the rage of the music quite well. It's the percussion that makes this so special. Reverbed-up clangs and bangs abound, adding a unique sense of life into everything.

The album is certainly aptly titled, and the album art suites it equally well. Just as Ahab covers the nautical theme in everything, PHOBOS invokes the power of continental plates slowly moving and crushing each other, driven by the power of the planet's molten, seething core and mantle. Well, invoking it everywhere except maybe the lyrics. I can't tell. But again... it does not matter! He could be ranting about My Little Pony dolls for all I cared; it wouldn't stop the power of the music.

If there was one weakness to be found here, it would be the length of the album. That's right, I'm going to complain that a doom metal album that moves as fast as its eponymous tectonic plates is too long. This is also where I admit to being a severe pansy. If anything, it's all just a bit TOO much. Usually, by the time I get to "Inseminator/Matrix," I'm exhausted. The music is just so intense, powerful, and relentless that 40 minutes is enough to vent all my pent-up rage, and then I'm happy to go back to my happy-go-lucky thrash and death metal. It's certainly a tough listen to sit all the way through, but the power of Tectonics is undeniable. I find it very hard to justify marking off points from an album because it's too good at what it does.

This all being said, why isn't the metal community more aware of this project? This is the same metal community that turns absolute nobodies like Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh into minor celebrities (albeit for an entirely different reason), so why has PHOBOS gone so long without proper attention? Because this is a band every metalhead SHOULD hear. This is what every "Godflesh-inspired" band should look up to. So do yourself a favor and just get this damn album already. Unless you hate doom metal for some inconceivable reason, you should like this.

An Industrial-strength Gem - 91%

Erin_Fox, October 28th, 2006

Melding industrial inspirations with a mechanically dark nature, P.H.O.B.O.S. aim to recapture the atmosphere of bands like the much revered Godflesh here on “Tectonics”. For the most part, the brainchild of Frederic Sacri, listeners can expect cold, steely manipulations of sound designed to paint a bleak landscape of sonic thunder.

As the composer trudges through dirging passages of pure steel and molten lava, the listener is compelled to enter the dark underworld of dissonance that is P.H.O.B.O.S., with tracks such as “Nietzschean Dynamics” and “Nihil Credo” sounding as if they were forged at the Earth’s very core. Electric techno-doom prevails as the record continues.

Aurally bleak percussive tones are enhanced by forceful axe grinding, digital effects and raw, raspy growls that beckon you to step even further into a vast, uncertain abyss as the album progresses. “Gregarious” is hugely gritty, an industrial strength dose of robotic pounding that makes Trent Renzor look like a schoolgirl in comparison. Steely and as sharp as a fine Japanese sword, “Monochrome Red” takes you on a harsh journey into that which is purely electric; it’s employing saturated guitars for maximum squealing effect as a plodding beat pounds the listening subject into submission.

If you loved Godflesh’s “Streetcleaner”, this is an album that you will certainly want to pick up, as it thoughtfully expands on those bitter emotions in a soullessly pleasurable manner.

Audio Malevolence - 90%

aeric7734, August 2nd, 2005

This is bludgeoning music to say the least. PHOBOS quite possibly crush the majority of their contemporaries, leaving their few equals to observe the unholy monstronsity that comprises the sum of Tectonics' parts. In fact, while PHOBOS is a black metal band, I can only draw comparisons to early Scorn, Godflesh, and Skinny Puppy. This one man show obliterates past solo efforts like Judas Iscariot and ilk, making such mundane efforts about equal to dropping a pebble on a steel-toed boot. PHOBOS' album Tectonics picks up a mountain and drops it on you, then shovels you from the ground and pulverizes you with a slowly hammering sledge just for good measure. I read another reviewer comparing the album to the rise and fall of Rome, which is a well warranted metaphor indeed. The only other person in black metal today capable of matching wits with the brains behind PHOBOS would be Blut Aus Nord, though only for his album The Work Which Transforms God and follow-up EP Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity. I abhor comparing the two, but the similarities are definitely there to a small degree.

Being the exact opposite of fast, this dirge of an album presents the listener with an absolutely bitter epicedium, aurally devastating and sonically dissonant. The drum programming is nothing short of cataclysmic, blending with the huge fuzz of the guitar and bass perfectly. PHOBOS utilizes outside samples, as well as repressive foreign textures no doubt the result of smashing at the keyboard. This album contains no choruses, and no logical progression (which is not to say it lacks it, either) in any traditional sense. In this reviewer's mind, Tectonics is the product of a nihilist's meandering scourge... a musical beat-down by a truly disillusioned cynic.

It's not extremely often that I discover an up-and-coming act like this and become fully awed by their presentation. In fact, this album is one of only three (the other two being Blut Aus Nord's Work Which Transforms God and Deathspell Omega's Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice) such black metal albums I have discovered in the last two years to really cause this old dog's jaw to drop. Being as old as I am, I've seen unremarkable bands come and go and bid them good riddance, but PHOBOS is one act I hope to see continually develop his misanthropic brand of droning discord well into the bleak future.