This is a relatively short 19 minutes EP comprised of 4 songs, but there is a lot to unpack. Old school Death Metal is so near and dear to my heart, we might as well call OSDM my vena cava. If you like death metal, I believe you owe it to yourself to give these gents from Fargo, North Dakota a fair chance.
Phobophilic. What a name and what the fuck does it even mean? “Phobo”, as it relates to phobia is the extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something; and the suffix “-philic” describes the property of being attracted to a specified item. Therefore, translating from Death Metal English™ to regular English – a love of fears, perhaps love of being afraid. Pretty metal so far.
The demo is called “Undimensioned Identities”, and again translating that DME™ to regular English, we have Dimensionless Identities – Lovecraft influence present and I’m already in.
Before I get to the music, I must address the necrotic elephant in the room. 2019 had so many OSDM bands, demos, albums, to a varying degree of quality and effort. Some have felt wary by the over-saturation of Incantation & Morbid Angel worship. Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of mining through it all for the gems. In a year with Tomb Mold, Witch Vomit, Mortiferum, the Rots (Cerebral & Coffin), Encoffinized, Malignant Altar, Frozen Soul, Fluids, and a lot of other bands not on 20 Buck Spin or Maggot Stomp, Phobophilic surprised me by its quality and ability to memorably stand out.
For a demo this sounds mature, defined, well-composed, and tight. The production balances itself well between clarity and moldy griminess. This is pure filth in the best way. Is this a familiar sound? Yes. Are they doing something new and innovative? No. Are they dedicated students of the metal art form? Absolutely. Their study and dedication to this art form will help set them apart and keep their heads above water in the vast OSDM sea.
If the sheer number of memorable riffs is an indication of what these guys are as people, I’d probably hate to go camping with them – they’d most likely pack too much and bring too many bags. These riffs bludgeon, pummel, crush, smash, rip, groove, crawl, slither, ooze – they are fun, infectious, and well-crafted. The work put into the composition and arrangement of these 4 numbers took effort, but I also imagine these guys had a lot of fun. If you listen to this and at any point during these 19mins your head isn’t banging or nodding or one of your limbs isn’t automatically responding to these songs, I don’t know what to tell you, something is wrong with you. I hear Finnish and Floridian riffs, I hear New York atmosphere and pace, and Swedish solos and through it all it sounds upbeat, and dare I say fun.
That Which Swallowed The Sun is a standout track, however, if the last track Synaptic Vessel is an indication of things to come I eagerly await for their future output through Blood Harvest. (International Acrobat)