Phemüt’s debut LP, The Memory Of Spring, is a vacuum of hopelessness. To listen to the album in its entirety is to have any optimism you might have for your own life and/or the future of our species slowly but relentlessly winnowed into nothing.
“The Symbology Of Ruin” wastes no time as a cascade of sludge engulfs a brief introduction of middle-eastern horns. Aaron Edge’s riffs expand like the wings of a vulture, and Cole Benoit’s roars are laced with despair. Drummer Penny Keats plays an electronic kit, which gives The Memory Of Spring an overarching industrial feel—like Godflesh performing a set of Khanate covers.
The endlessly trudging second and third tracks, “Of Bones And Ash” and “Beneath The Embers,” are the void-like core of The Memory Of Spring. The former is a 16-minute journey through an ocean of toxic waste. It begins with minimal tom hits that match Edge’s torturously slow riffage. A chorus of baritone moans arises from the depths, sounding like a cult of suicidal monks. Suddenly, the song increases in volume and develops into droning escarpments of distortion and deceptively smart drumming. Eerily pretty synthesizer soon slithers across the aural canvas, creating a purposeful juxtaposition between these sounds and Phemüt’s austere doom. The track presents a variety of equally punishing sections before reverting back to cultish moaning.
“Beneath The Embers” opens with the sound of footsteps and a guitar progression that could’ve appeared on the score of The Shining. Led by Keats’ knuckle-dragging drumming, Phemüt traverses into a barrage of sludge that sounds like early Isis (the band) on downers. Five minutes in, the band transitions into a Floor-style riff that’s simultaneously punishing and catchy. But, staying true to the overall malice of The Memory Of Spring, the song quickly devolves back into sadistic drone. This heaviness gradually gives way to a choir’s dirge, which leads into the phaser-drenched guitar progression from the beginning of the song. This time around, the portentousness of Edge’s guitar work is enhanced by Keats’ floor tom abuse.
The last track, “Only Death Is Forever,” provides a fitting end to The Memory Of Spring with sparse guitar and drum work that’s complicated by an atmosphere of ethereal synth, which intermittently drifts through the song like a noxious cloud. In short: Phemüt’s debut full-length is doom in its most challenging form. From beginning to end, it will lock your mind in a cocoon of night.