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Killer, brutal, and assorted other good adjectives - 72%

Zodijackyl, August 6th, 2013

Swedish death metal - it's almost unfair to introduce a band with this stone of burden. It immediately conjures expectations of early Dismember and Entombed, even encourages bands who merely emulate those bands with an HM-2 and a far shot at copying those greats. That is not Phidion, that is not even how you introduce Phidion.

Phidion could, but have no need to impress with accolades. Martin Missy leads this killer assault with his piercing vocals that have only become better seasoned since his legendary run with the brutal thrash legends Protector - late-80s German peers of mighty thrashers like Kreator. Anyone into extreme thrash has already perked up, extremely excited at the mention of Protector. Missy joins with two other parts an incredible trio - including bassist Fredrik Pihlström, who has an extensive resume including fronting another variety of extreme thrash band, Talion, since the 90s. Even more vicious is Guitarist Christos - a 15-year veteran of the Swedish death metal scene who blends his Swedish roots with the heavy viciousness of some of the harsher Floridian death metallers like Malevolent Creation and the brutality of Cannibal Corpse, though he is clearly a better songwriter than anyone in CC.

Yes, I could have simply called them a Swedish death metal band, but that is neither a fair estimation of the band's skill and style, nor a fair description of a band that carries a strong flair of originality amongst a sea of downright clones and ripoffs. Phidion are concentrated and brutal, original and enjoyable in their own right, yet much more familiar than alien as a solid death metal band. They offer a combination of both smooth songwriting and abrupt changes that rip the listener from their seat, like the middle of "Anthropophagus".

They're so good that I struggle, as a writer, to put you in the seat while hearing this music. It's just over 25 minutes long, conscious of the impact of their thrashy brand of death metal - in no rush to crank out a full-length for the sake of doing so, rather using a shorter run-time to pummel your head with vicious death metal. There is quite a variety of death metal riffing, adhering to no particular subset, rather being a well-varied onslaught. It's primarily fast and a combination of death/thrash riffs as well as pure death metal riffs that bridge several styles and generation of death metal seamlessly. As I said, this band is neither a clone nor a wannabe, they have their own sound, more distinct than most, and powerful enough that I suspect that each spin of this EP crushed some lame, derivative Entombed-worship band.

This is focused. It is a very coherent effort that wastes not a second from start to finish, ending almost too quickly after six songs, not that I could ever fault a band for leaving me wanting more. This band does an excellent job of changing up tempos, adding some stop/start riffing, and simply pushing and pulling the listener throughout this whole release. It is immersive, aggressive death metal from start to finish, with the only break being variations in the riffing, from mid-paced grooves led by the mighty Missy to fast death metal, blended with some unsettling stop/start parts that are reminiscent of the hammering nature of early Cannibal Corpse.

It's really good, but a few aspects leave me wishing for more. The production is sharp and clean, but these riffs are fucking dirty! Of course, this requires a sufficient volume for the listener to be hit by the full impact of the album, but it's so vicious that it feels like it might be better fitted to an old, dirty studio sound, more fitting of a basement, a run-down venue, even a cave. It is by no means excessively polished - it could easily rip the scrawny heads and other body parts off of a leaner death metal band like Cattle Decapitation, but I just want it to feel even more of the grit of the slaying they do - something between worshipping Slayer and using their music as a means of conveying egregious violence, because unholy shit, these riffs fucking kill!

The bottom line? The mighty Martin Missy of Protector meets a perfect match for his vicious vocals and Christos rips through 25 minutes of awesome death metal riffs and it's the most refreshing and oppressing death metal coming out of Sweden in recent years. Highlights? No, listen to the whole god damn thing, as long as you have 25 minutes to be eviscerated.