I didn’t want to write about Phrenelith.
I didn’t want to post yet another piece on death metal. It seems like that is mostly what I’ve been digging in on this summer and the blog has mostly turned into sparse musings on the latest death metal album I’ve uncovered.
The problem with this is twofold. I’ve been listening to a lot of death metal recently compared to previous years where I’d only keep an eye out for the occasional Portal, Gorguts or Dead Congregation release. A lot of other stuff was overproduced, reeked of clean vocals or just wasn’t very good. The other problem is that Phrenelith’s new album, Desolate Endscape, is good.
This album has been out for several months now, but I’m just getting around to writing about it because I wanted to let it sink in. Sometimes you’ll hear something, like the new 18 Visions, and it’ll sound really good at first or have a lot of hype, I’ll bang out something like 800 words on it and then I’ll not listen to the album for another two years. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case with Desolate Endscape.
Humans like familiarity, comfort, consistency. I was familiar with Undergang, which shares David Torturdod with Phrenelith. Undergang has become a pretty big deal over the years, but I can’t get into it beyond the occasional listen. I have no slander to offer for it, but it isn’t really for me. Don’t make the mistake I did of comparing the two bands or listening for similarities. Torturdod and friends have two very distinct entities on their hands. You might love both bands, you might love Undergang and you might love Phrenelith. I can’t stop listening to Phrenelith.
This band just doesn’t stop. It feels like they are constantly moving fast. Their aggressive, uptempo interpretation of death metal constantly feels like it is moving quickly, even if it really isn’t. I can only count a handful of times throughout Desolate Endscape where the band feels like they slow down to catch their breath. Endless riffing and the constant assault of artillery-like drumming from start to finish.
Phrenelith also captures an element, a vibe that creates a dynamic atmosphere with compromising their straightforward approach. The guitar tones, the rhythms, the way in which everything is arranged plays as both very in your face, but also spinning a web of atmosphere truly immersing the listener in the experience.
The perfect track to sum up the experience of listening to the new Phrenelith album is “Dysmorphosis.” This track is the shortest on the whole album. It feels every bit as fast as the three minutes and one second that it covers, but that is only after the track is prefaced by a guitar intro that sends the listener into a spatial experience that tests the limits of where the mind goes before the onslaught begins.
The final track is the longest on the album, clocking in at over seven minutes. It's also a good detox to help you ease out of one of the easiest and heaviest metal listening experiences of the year.
The album came out in early spring, but it’s never too late to get in on one of the best and most surprising releases of the death metal genre in 2017. Go snag yourself a download and embrace the heaviness of the Desolate Endscape.
by Daniel Coughlin