Review Summary: Death metal sucks but Phrenelith are pretty cool.
Death metal sucks. You know, I know it, everybody knows it--as a genre it's bottom barrel garbage. I'll spare you the "everything is OSDM nowadays" diatribe because you can find hundreds of similar sentiments in every corner of the Internet. Yet still its fans clamor for more. Despite every band sounding like Obliteration these days they still shovel it in.
That's because in spite of it all, the aesthetic that is death metal will sometimes strike a chord. Sure 95% of the genre waxes poetic about burning Christians while using the vocabulary of a kid who just discovered Dungeons and Dragons, but when a band gets it right it feels good
. Not in the "I'm 16 and just heard Leaves Turn Inside You
" feels good, but moreso in the "I love this ***ty B-horror movie" kind of way.
Phrenelith are that sort of band. While felating every death metal trope they manage to transcend their peers in a surprising ways. Desolate Endscape
has the chunky drums and bass you would expect, the grimy production, and hell even the nearly indecipherable logo--it's all so predictable. However, at a time where the oppressive majority of of death metal is either 90s throwback or (to a much lesser extent) forward thinking and modern, Phrenelith play a warm and nostalgic homage to the early 2000s. Think, post-Diabolical Conquest
Incantation and you'll have the right idea.
Again, Phrenelith are anything if not derivative. But sometimes that's okay! After all, when "Deluge of Ashes" kicks on, chances are you won't be thinking about the state of death metal in the new millennium. Desolate Endscape
offers this sort of escapism through a perfectly worked aesthetic without feeling exactly
like everything else out there. Yeah you can find the album in pretty obvious places--even in their (great) label mates, Undergang. The eerie tones and familiar song structures do little to evoke true feelings of inspiration, but sometimes it's good to return to that feeling you got when first spun, let's say, Last One on Earth
Death metal sucks but often times the unique feelings it evokes are worth a trip down the same well worn path. Phrenelith play it safe with Desolate Endscape
, mostly because there are so many ways you can play with the genre anymore. If you're someone who is looking for revelations within death metal in 2017 then wow do I have news for you. Yet if you're someone who wants something fun, familiar, and well done then you could do a lot worse than Desolate Endscape