Review Summary: Throatruiner Records labels them as "Jazz for screamo kids wearing corpse paint..." wait, I thought they were black metal, crust, post-anything, hardcore?!? Well, whatever they really are, it's a "New Thing” no doubt.
The genre of “black metal” is one that for most, is populated by the throat tearing screams of crazy Scandinavians and a myriad of bands that seem like the same satanic thunder storm over and over again. Well, even if you can’t tell the differences between Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, The Phantom Carriage’s “New Thing,” will definitely put some new parts into and new paint onto the machine for you. Hailing from France, the five piece’s debut is a thirty-minute hurricane of furious blasts and screams, but with enough bipolarity, melody, and genre switching gasps to keep the listener absorbed and the music moving full speed ahead.
“The Horses Feed Their Birds” opens the album with standard black metal mayhem until 50 seconds in, some Refused slams in with punk harmonies flailing. The band seems to be taking a good many cues from Refused actually; maybe not so outside the box, but the riffs and style of delivery are there at times for sure (tracks 1 and 4 predominantly). The next track, “The Wreck of My Mental Ship” is a chaotic hardcore punch to the nose sporting angular stops and starts and fierce chugging break downs. It will bring all the boys to the mosh.
“The Monument on Hendrick’s Hill” and “Rain Falls in Black Drops” are the highlighs of this porkly half an hour. They are what truly exemplify the uniqueness of this band’s sound. “The Monument…” has a slow, simmering, sludgy beginning, but eventually rises to a hailstorm of riffage with some Dillinger Escape Plan-esq jitters sprinkled in for good measure around the 3:00 minute mark. It’s still black metal, but The Phantom Carriage are really making it their own.
“Rain Falls…” is the both “the most Phantom” song on the disc and it’s best by far. It starts with a saxophone lead jazz intro, and somehow this sounds right though and is just plain fantastic. The band twice trades back and fourth between this jazz verse and a post-hardcore touched chorus, but never fear metal die-hards! It dives deep into the blackness again, blasting vocal chord grating snarls and sledgehammer-to-the-temple intensity for the remainder of the tune (except for a bridge where the sax returns but no big deal).
Next up are the two shorties. “Les Fantômes Se Cachent Pour Pleurer” is an instrumental polka/euro-folk song (featuring among other things, an accordion) backed by stylistic and then straight metal drums. It leads right into the compact shotgun blast of the upbeat, “Our Roses.” Both songs are less than two minutes and work as a fun pair to break up the slew of four 5 and 6 minute heavyweights preceding them.
“16-04-10” is an excellent closer for, “New Thing,” bringing all the black metal, jazz, punk, technicality (and whatever else) of the previous six songs and reforming them into a new adventure. It ends, however, with a one-minute solo piano outro; as to why is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s just because the guys thought that since we were all on our toes the entire time anyway, why settle with something expected.
If you’re not a fan of black metal (but do enjoy metal), this will be a nice surprise for you, and if you are a black metal soldier, I’d say the same thing for you too. For a debut this is quite good on all sonic and writing fronts, and without question, The Phantom Carriage are a daring band in their field. “New Thing” will engage you and keep you guessing until the pummeling stops, and even when it does, you might just let them do it to you all over again.