Phrenelith grind death metal’s gears toward Greek mythology on ground-toppling ‘Chimaera’

Metal has its wells that it commonly dips into, and that’s fine because there are certain things that just work well eternally for the genre. Do a lyrical content search on Metal Archives for Greek mythology, and you will find a treasure trove of bands that have dabbled in the topic from every style from every place on the planet. Metal never will abandon Greek tales as inspirational fodder, rightfully so.

One of the latest to jump deep into that pool is Danish death metal crushers Phrenelith on their gargantuan second record “Chimaera,” a mighty and savage display that’s a marked step up from their 2017 “Desolate Escape” debut. Nothing wrong with that record as it remains a steady first building block for the band, but they find some different magic on these seven tracks that run over 31 minutes. It’s economical in length and packed with power, with the band—guitarist/vocalist Simon David Larsen, guitarist/vocalist David Torturdød, bassist Jakob, drummer Pawel Tunkiewiecz—channeling the great tales that inspired this record to amp up their already formidable game to create something that signals their standing as one of modern death’s more ferocious bands.

“Awakening Titans” dawns cleanly and elegantly before the first punches are thrown, and then we’re into the mouth of hell with infernal growls laying waste. The tempo is beastly as it trudges with a fury with the leads drawing blood, horrific pain being administered, and growls gurgling before the track trickles away. “Chimaerian Offspring – Part I” ignites with steely riffs and guttural growls as madness swirls above your head. Things get dizzying as the band lays waste, though some melody snakes its way in, and you are left suffocating as chaos envelopes you. “Phlegethon” is an instrumental track that burns hard as the slow-driving playing eats into your guts, and the guitars spiral, making you grasp for the walls. A cold, eerie freeze begins to take hold before things come unglued again, the guitars create confusion, and we’re out in a strange vortex that makes you wonder where you are.

“Gorgonhead” stomps hard as the growls menace and the playing eats away at your nerve endings. The track then comes apart as death engorges, and the playing churns dangerously, sending you into a tailspin mentally that’s tough to topple. “Kykytos” is runs by quickly, hammering you before you know what’s happening, riding on a wave of swelling riffs. The vocals are charnel and the growls menace, and the melodies encircle you and threaten your sanity, giving you relentless blistering. “Χίμαιρα” is an instrumental piece with acoustics ringing out, drizzling clouding, and strange fogs clouding your vision, leading into closer “Chimaerian Offspring – Part II.” Guitars get going and flatten you while the growls eat away at steel, and then we’re off to the races. Guitars twist and turn as the band smashes hard, digging its claws into the earth, firing away at you. The drums maul as the playing flattens, ell is unleashed, and all elements disappear into the abyss.

Phrenelith show a ton of growth on “Chimaera,” but that doesn’t mean they’ve smoothed their sharp edges or pulled back on their frightening power. Instead, the band improved markedly from a death metal band with a ton of promise top one that seems violently sure of themselves, ready to eat away at your sanity. This is a really strong statement from this Danish band that is ending the year with a cataclysmic explosion we could feel well into 2022.  

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