On second full length, Bringer Of Drought, Montreal’s Phobocosm go beyond the impenetrable wall of death metal they displayed on their debut. Choosing instead to mine the depths of despair, anguish and horrific ambience this time out has paid off. However they haven’t torn the wall of sound completely down, rather built it better and thicker than before. It’s an intense listen that will demand many returns to fully take it all in but the journey of discovery is a rewarding one for anyone that is looking for something outside the paint by numbers lines of standard fare death metal.
The band’s inspirations on their debut Deprived were many but mainly meshed Incantation and Gorguts with a flair for the old school. Those influences can still be heard here in the horrific growls of vocalist Etienne Bayard and the experimentative flair of the songwriting which can be heard in nearly every minute of the 30 plus runtime. Which by the way is done over just four tracks and feels miles wider than it actually is.
Multiple spins opens a wide array of directions and it’s obvious from the onset of the Neurosis inspired “Engulfing Dust” that Phobocosm took great care to get it just right. It’s a slow burner of an opener that winds and snakes its way into a track that YOB might cut if they were solely into death metal. Black metal inspired percussion gives way to lumberingly slow beats while hypnotically melodic riffs feed the spacious and malevolent atmosphere. The band’s songwriting shows itself to be stronger just in this first track, decidedly darker and immensely heavier than anything from their debut and we’ve only just begun.
Ævangelist proved last year to be the undisputed crown holder when it comes to packing as much discordant death metal and terror inducing atmosphere into one album. On “Fallen” this band gives them a run for the money. This, the longest track of the four offered here proves to be the most adventurous, shape shifting from thunderous doom to black infused death metal to the near jazzy — out of left field — approach of Chaos Echœs. It’s immense in scope and utterly devastating in delivery, offering rare moments to catch your breath just before the grip tightens itself, once more, on your psyche leaving you exhausted, yet more than content at what just transpired.
The other two tracks follow suit and fall comfortably between doom, death metal, and devastatingly heavy atmosphere. After spending time with this album it’s increasingly apparent that this is the sound the band is most comfortable with. It’s ultimately darker and more heavily nuanced than its predecessor and offers a larger payoff in a shorter runtime. Which is a feat in and of itself.
While Bringer Of Drought shares some similarities with Deprived it far exceeds it in songwriting, musicianship, and utter disparity through horrific atmosphere. The band has excelled in every aspect and it shows early on. But the real triumph here is they keep it going throughout, never falling into a lull or repetitive trap. Rather, they combine dark and sinister with death metal that is challenging and refreshing at the same time.