PICK OF THE WEEK: Phobocosm mix astral weirdness into darkened death with ‘Bringer of Drought’

PhobocosmThis is a really great and interesting time to be a fan of metal. There is so much going on, a ton of experimentation, and a bunch of bands making this style of music something you can’t always predict. Yeah, there are a lot of groups grinding the same gears over and over, but who cares? They’ll get eaten alive in the metal version of the Gear Wars.

One of the bands that will be at the head of the table will be Phobocosm, the Canadian dark death metal band that’s become one of the frontrunners when it comes to who is keeping things fresh and inventive. Over two records now, their latest the mind-melting “Bringer of Drought,” the members have combined forces to make extreme sounds that stimulate your brain and get your nerve endings all worked up. Yeah, they probably could have just banded together and cranked out any old death metal album, and it probably would have ruled. But they’ve taken chances and poured a nice bit of weirdness into their sound, which takes them from really good to a band worth going out of your way to hear.

Phobocosm coverPhobocosm joined forced in 2008, vowing to bring together their visions for how they would warp the death metal world. The band finally released their full-length debut “Deprived” two years ago, first unleashing their strange wares into the world, and now they’re back with this four-track, 35-minute pounder that takes their sound and twists it like a pretzel. The band—vocalist/bassist Etienne Bayard (also of Vengeful), guitarists Samuel Dufour (Obsolete Mankind) and Robin Milley (Neuraxis), and drummer Jean-Sébastien Gagnon (also of Obsolete Mankind)—clearly are getting better and more innovative as time goes on, and each visit with this record is like taking a terrifying trip into the cosmos to face the great mysteries of beyond.

“Engulfing Dust” opens the record, running 7:49 with noise static rolling in, clean notes humming, and the track slowly coming to life. Once the trudging begins, a twinge of doom strikes, and the death-drenched growls lead the way, dragging you into the night. Melody slips underneath the murk, as the tempo hits a slow burn, and vocals begin a furious gurgle. Slow-driving death takes it from there, with the playing working to disorient anyone who crosses its path, and every element blending into toxic winds, with the final morbid notes bleeding off. “Tidal Scourge” is an 8:48 mauler, as it punishes right from the start, with the vocals blasting into the room, and muddy, lurching chaos arriving with the darkness. The track starts to unload heavily, pouring toxicity into the mix, and a slurry assault of guitars arrives and makes the room spin violently. The vox scar, the pace begins to bruise, and the track hits a slow boil, letting off steam and fury before the song bubbles away.

“Ordeal” spills in with ominous pounding and vocals blasting by. The band hits a grinding thrash mode, with the track pummeling away, and the song going into a guttural, ugly area, with guitars bending your spine. The rhythm section trudges away, while the vocals scrape, and the band hits total demolition. The final moments are ugly and smothering, paving the way for mammoth closer “Fallen” that runs a healthy 11:46. Clean guitars greet you, but don’t get too comfy as everything opens up suddenly and starts a downward spiral. The band keeps unloading cement block-thick fury, with the guitars bringing strangeness and dragging you into an electrical storm. The haze hangs there for a while, bringing humidity, and once the tempo kicks up again, it’s proggier and spacier. The drums erupt, while the song pushes harder, and as they build toward the finish, the band starts breathing fire. Your blood and bones are shaken together, while the world around you feels like it’s in full collapse, as you fade away along with the final bed of aggravated noise.

“Bringer of Drought” is the logical next step for Phobocosm as well as another great entry into dark death metal’s brave new world. This band keeps finding new ways to twist your insides and disorient you, and as long as they keep seeking those unexpected bends, they’re going to remain damn fun to follow into the future. These guys prove it’s possible to keep unearthing new ground and pushing the sounds they honor well beyond the stars.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Phobocosm

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

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