Phobocosm – Deprived (Dark Descent Records)
It’s comfortable for a writer to lean on convention sometimes; but sometimes, convention gets co-opted because the band actually does stuff you don’t necessarily expect, like write riffs worth commenting on. I haven’t wanted to apply the term “catchy” to a “darkened death metal” album in a long time. Maybe ever. Usually, I use more Lovecraftian words like “cyclopean” or “stygian.” I like my moonlit darkness as gibbous as the next guy, but I (as I hope others) have longed for more than just a few riffs to bubble up from the murky depths on some of these albums, to help render a few of them a bit more distinct than others. Thankfully, Phobocosm showcase a penchant for heaping stygian riff upon stygian riff, thusly pleasing both sides of my desires. I get to rest on my conventional Lovecraftian terminology, AND there are riffs to grab onto.
Posssessed of the same otherworldly grace of albums like Failures For Gods and Unholy Cult, Phobocosm invoke, almost better than any other band in the game, the hallowed mid-period lurch and blast of Immolation. To compare a band to Immolation is really no mean feat. That basically means that a band can write a compelling riff that includes almost zero harmonic or melodic value, yet it is STILL catchy and can fuck up any motherfucker in the room. Phobocosm is, at their heart, the reason that proper death metal was, is, and always shall be an outsider art form. The vocals are bellowed and foul, the riffs are crooked, and the arrangements are warped chasms traversing the depths of eternity or some such nonsense. As an album, “Deprived” absolutely seethes with vulgarity and opposition to both convention and discord. Too nasty and asymmetrical to be conventional, yet too linear too be truly discordant, Phobocosm exist confidently in that same substance-over-style middle ground as Bölzer that allows them the flexibility to fearlessly deliver riffs and songs without shrouding their work in manufactured fog. As an example of dark death metal, it brings hope that perhaps the long-tiresome wash of murk will be soon to recede and death metal bands will be allowed to write riffs again without fear of being accused of trying to get on the Summer Slam tour. Deprived may be one of the first full length albums in a long time that sounds confident enough to let the riffs burst forth and give us something to listen to without sacrificing any of the scum-appeal that followers of the eldritch void have grown so comfortable with.