Review Summary: The album art says it all.
There’s a certain appeal to a band with a cover like Immense, Intense, Suspense has on offer. Especially when said band also happens to be labelled under ‘death metal’. I mean, just take a second to really look at that cover, the image of some kind of goblin sat atop a cliff and pointing down to the gray, dull world below. The clouds above look distorted and too substantial, as if someone heard a description of them and decided to paint them a little too heavily. As much as I hate myself for saying this, all of this can be used to describe aspects of Phlebotomized distorted and twisted view on music.
Here’s a few more things about Phlebotomized from the off. They use gang shouts in flat out death metal passages, they regularly employ use of a violin that dances mesmerizingly between heavy death riffs. Despite featuring a substantial amount of old-school death metal, Phlebotomized throw in dreamy clean interludes with insubstantial and fragile singing. Being engrossed in the world that Immense, Intense, Suspense creates is a bizarre experience. But it’s one that is hard to find to leave even after you listen to it, the mood and avant-garde nature refusing to completely disappear from your psyche, slowly but surely becoming more and more substantial, beckoning you to have another listen.
It’s hard to describe Immense, Intense, Suspense in words without become contradictory and completely over the top. While featuring a very old-school death metal aesthetic at their core, Phlebotomized overlap this with so many more interesting features that it’s really hard to imagine how it sounds without hearing it. Deep, unintelligible death metal growls and death metal riffs can give away to a withdrawn insubstantial section in a second and straight back without any warning. Despite all of this, Phlebotomized show off impressive song writing skills, varying between different tempos and moods in their music. Unfortunately, the production takes away a bit of the lushness that the record should display. While the guitars sound great and the drumming solid, some of the mixing is slightly off and you can’t help but feel that with a more expansive budget Phlebotomized could have crafted a truly immense album.
Even though the best songs don’t come until the end, Immense, Intense, Suspense nonetheless maintains its unique entertainment throughout the entire album. Be it with its variation (“Barricade”), its riffs and atmosphere (“Dubbed Forswearer”) or its distorted view of beauty (“In Search Of Tranquillity”), Phlebotomized intrigue as much as they entertain and confuse as much as they impress. Overall though, you won’t find many records that give you the same sort of thrill that this album gives you, just give yourself a bit of time to understand what that goblin on the cliff is telling you and you’ll soon come to appreciate his voice.