Review Summary: Cavernous ways
Old school death metal has been well within my comfort zone for some time now, in the sense that it relaxes me while offering an escape from my everyday wars. Especially the kind which dwells in the deep holes of the earth, like that of the American quartet Phobophilic. Their revivalist death-doom formula, which pays tribute to Finnish acts like Demilich and Adramelech within a cavernous USDM aesthetic, has all the right ingredients to take me into that very private dimension of mine. Whether due to its intricate riffing, deep abyssal gutturals, or overall atmosphere, Phobophilic's debut album, Enveloping Absurdity
, didn't take long to pull me into its muddy quicksand. As a matter of fact, the opener 'Enantiodromia' did the job almost instantly, through its infectious Finn-like approach reminiscent of the aforementioned collectives. Its tidy, classy character sets the tone for a collection of songs that show remarkable focus, mirroring a coherent, meticulously thought-out musical direction. The interplay between tempo variations is exceptionally smooth, as is the flow throughout the eight songs that feature an instrumental pit stop, 'Individuation', which, unlike most of its peers, is of real musical interest, adding value to the whole. Restraint and composure, qualities rarely associated with the genre, are palpable, giving Enveloping Absurdity
an adult nature while delivering some oxygen to the cavernous ambiance. An airy layer enhanced by the apt production of long-time collaborator Adam Tucker, who skillfully crafted the right environment for the band's songwriting. The riff feast on 'Nauseating Despair' and 'Those Which Stare Back', or the lacy kick-off of 'The Illusion of Self', are just a few of the album's many highlights, along with the constant, headbang-inducing, slow/mid-paced segments. Except for the somewhat inconsistent lead department and (expected) lack of originality, Enveloping Absurdity
has actually very few weaknesses, boasting a remarkable balance that makes it a must-listen for cave explorers who don't mind a little oxygen and refinement amongst the muddy holes of their soundscapes.