Everything about Phobophilic just reeks of old-school. From the artwork and logo adorning the front of their new album, Enveloping Absurdity, to the gritty black and white promo band shot, everything just stinks of old-school death metal and that’s before we’ve even pushed the button on this eight-track slab of filth. Unsurprisingly then, from the moment “Enantriodromia” slaps you in the face, any shadow of doubt about where the musical allegiance of this North Dakota quartet lies is swiftly crushed.
Much like the many other bands paying their own homage to the originators of the death metal scene (Tomb Mold, Gatecreeper, etc.), Enveloping Absurdity is a grumbling, scowling journey through some pretty filth-soaked sewers. Vocalist Aaron Dudgeon’s belched vocals, for example, could not sound any more disgusting if he tried. Spewing through the likes of “Nauseating Despair” his rotten vocals are accompanied by an equally gag-inducing display of dirty riffs and scummy basslines.
Mixing it up between thunderous blasts of death metal and dirtier, sludgier passages, the likes of “Cathedrals of Blood (Twilight of the Idols)” capture that traditional, old-school feel without losing any of that clarity with which the shitty productions of some of the classics were hampered. That being said, the whole thing is as thick as tar, with even the instrumental track “Individuation” having a suitably unpleasant aura about it.
For the most part, Dudgeon’s lyrics, inspired by French writers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre as well as Germany’s Fredrich Nietzche, show a concept that is philosophical and thought-provoking but one which, in practice, unless you have the lyrics in front of you, is lost in a sea of undecipherable, unpleasant growling. Still, sitting right in the middle of the album is the dramatic instrumental interlude, “Individuation,” which shows a more thoughtful side to Phobophilic and one which sits comfortably with the considered, thought-provoking themes Dudgeon explores on this record.
That being said, if you want a good, traditional romp through the dirtier streets of the old-school death metal scene, Enveloping Absurdity will take you on that. Is it better or worse than any of the other bands mentioned earlier who are peddling this kind of scum? Probably neither but, given the quality of the output from the genre at the moment is world-class, that makes Enveloping Absurdity another worthy addition.
Enveloping Absurdity Track Listing:
2. Those Which Stare Back
3. Nauseating Despair
4. Cathedrals of Blood (Twilight of the Idols)
6. The Illusion of Self
7. Survive in Obscurity
8. Enveloping Absurdity
Run Time: 37:55
Release Date: September 16, 2022
Record Label: Prosthetic Records