Phobophilic – Undimensioned Identities
Phobophilic were formed in 2017. The same year they released their “Demo 1” both on digital format and white cassette tapes with lyric sheets limited to a 30 copies run. The cassette tape version was released from Desperate Hell Records. The demo included over 20 minutes of old school death metal frenzy. The duration of the demo similarized the way many bands of the early death metal days faced their material and released it on lengthy demo cassette tapes.
On March 2019 Phobophilic self-released their “Rehearsal 2019”, a 3-track rehearsal tape recorded live in tribute to the old glorious tape trading days. The rehearsal came out in red tapes and was limited down to 50 copies. It was also digitally released on the band’s Bandcamp page.
“Undimensioned Identities” is their 3rd offering. It came out on September 2019 through Swedish label Blood Harvest and Rotted Life from the USA. The tapes are limited copies and almost sold out. A digital release also exists. All 3 releases of Phobophilic maintain a cult and underground character.
“Undimensioned Identities” was recorded, mixed and mastered at Signaturetone Recording. In its 4 songs Phobophilic cover many aspects of old school death metal presenting their interpretation and artistry for the genre.
Lyrically they are influenced by the mythic American writer of weird fiction and horror fiction H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) and the so-called Lovecraftian Horror thematology. The lyrics of “Undimensioned Identities” dwell amidst the cosmic lava, humanoids, inner self conflicts, celestial vibrations and mind functionality/dysfunction/non functionality. Obviously, Phobophilic want to magnetize thinking listeners with interests in both science fiction and reality.
Musically the EP starts off with the entitled song ‘That Which Swallowed The Sun’. From the first riff you are capsule-transferred to the early 90’s death metal. A planetary-cosmic fusion aura is in the air. The riff is an ultra heavy mid tempo chord sequence. It is the type of doom/death riff that makes you think you have already listened in another song, but you actually haven’t. The high note at the end of the phrase underlines its doom/death origin. The riff soon switches faster and the drums follow. The vocals are deep and guttural as the riff changes from a doom/death tribute to the Finnish scene to a Swedish death metal rolling type guitar theme. The bass is a layer of mud throughout the song keeping it dirty and evil. I like the way the drums fill the meters although they can work a bit more on it since the typical riffage of the band leaves them enough space from improvisation.
‘Subterranean Miscreation’ is a faster song. The Swedish influences in this one are more obvious with references to early Entombed and Nihilist. Some Finnish passages a-la Sentenced (of the 1st album “Shadows Of The Past” from 1992 only) do also appear. The almost punk drum beats can be accused as mosh-pit starters. The marching drums in the middle of the song add a progressive twist as the lead guitar breaks out to end in a Celtic Frost “ugh” just before the low end pitched growls start over again. The mid tempo riff which follows is enough to make you move in its rhythm. A second more melodic guitar lead breaks out. I would love it a bit higher in the final mix, but it’s still fine.
‘Diminished To Unbeing’ starts off again rather fast. Then the band wisely uses the pause to create tension just before the fast riff takes on again. The basic riff of the song heavily reminds me of Incantation. The songwriting of Phobophilic is wisely nice. Their rhythmical patters fit in the song structures really good. The distorted bass serves very well its purpose of being a panzer-thick layer of sub-sound. The cymbal is monolithic in a punk-ish way. At the end of ‘Diminished To Unbeing’ a doom riff in the vein of Encoffination destroys your mind and psychology. The lead guitar over this riff is again nicely sweet and the song ends in what sounds like a celestial holocaust.
‘Synaptic Vessel’ is definitely my standout track of the EP. The opening riff is top class. It includes and summarizes all the characteristics of the Phobophilic sound and increases the expectations from the band instantly classifying them in the nowadays elite bands of their sound. Phobophilic’s mixture of death/doom/punk aesthetics is very interesting and although the outcome is definitely death metal they deliver their own edition of it mixed with doom and that is awesome. Some riffs in “Synaptic Vessel” will remind you of Autopsy. Others Demigod (Fin). The vocals keep a steady deep grunts/gutturals character throughout the demo, while they also have layers of doom. This actually gives the vocals anown character. In the middle of the song guitars are left to make feedback noise. Ritual drums are heard and the vocals break out screaming in an Autopsy manner. The Saint Vitus / Black Sabbath riff is followed by the best lead guitar work I have come across in this style in a while! It’s a pity this lead is so short. I would love to listen some more out of it. Another verse serves as a bridge and the second lead starts again more melodic this time but again full of technique! “Synaptic Vessel” has a masterpiece lead guitar work that left me speechless! The song ends in a repeated/fading out doom riff that drags the victims down to hell pits.
All in all, “Undimensioned Identities” is a really very promising EP and one that every old school death metal fan (and especially those in doom/death metal) will surely enjoy and consequently need to check out. For my personal taste, I would like the lead guitars a bit higher in the final mix and the drums even more free to improvise because I think this will enhance their music and add more of a personal style. There is no doubt that Phobophilic is an excellent band with nice and catchy songwriting and very good players! As for the future, I think there are only very small details for Phobophilic to check out before they give us a brilliant full length debut album. I am actually looking forward to it! I believe in this band and I know they will pleasantly surprise many of doom/death metal fans around!