Bringer of Drought
Dark Descent Records
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
To most people, Canada means snow, ice hockey, maple leaves, mounties, Nickelback, Alanis Morrisette, and Bryan Adams. To metal heads, all bar the last three items in that list hold true. In addition to that, Canada also means Annihilator, Gorguts, Kataklysm, Voivod, Devin Townsend, Anvil, and Terence and Phillip. History has shown us that this vast icy land can produce diverse and interesting metal acts for the generations. Add to that list Montreal quartet Phobocosm. Formed in January 2008, the group boasts in its ranks former Neuraxis guitarist Rob Milley, alongside the of Obsolete Mankind guitarist S. Dufour and drummer Jean-Sébastien Gagnon, and Vengeful bassist/vocalist E. Bayard, the group certainly do well at almost managing to defy classification.
Phobocosm are an interesting beast, that’s for sure. Their weapons of choice are an interesting combination of doom, dark, atmospheric, non technical death metal. That might sound like they plod along at a pace that would give good odds to a turtle winning a race, and to a point that is true at times. In fact, the opening sludgefest from their second release dubbed Bringer of Drought, the aptly titled “Engulfing Dust”, is an almost soul crushing assault of aural doom. Sparse yet dense guitars, thundering drums and Bayard’s bludgeoning vocal growl create an atmosphere that has plenty of room to breathe whilst the same time feeling somewhat claustrophobic.
As the album progresses, it’s easy to see why Phobocosm have shared the stage with Incantation, Ulcerate and Gorguts. There’s little doubt that the quartet share a lot in common with each of the aforementioned acts. I’d almost go as far to say there’s slight hint of Autopsy in and around Bringer of Drought, too. Phobocosm shift gears several times with “Tidal Scourge” and “Ordeal” as the tempos fluctuate to include blast beats over the top of dissonant, ringing guitars. It might not be anything new within the metal genre, but there’s something about the way that Phobocosm have crafted these four tracks that feels mildly fresh and interesting. The final cut, “Fallen” is also the longest clocking in at just shy of 12 minutes. The atonal finale twists and turns from blast beats to trudging death metal before settling on a stomping doom tempo before fading to black. It’s possibly the best indication of what Phobocosm are about right now as much as it is a launch platform for them for their next album.
At only four tracks, Phobocosm’s Bringer of Drought clocks in at an impressive 34 minutes. It’s a lengthier effort than Slayer’s Reign in Blood and Deicide’s Legion. It’s also simple yet complex, sparse yet dense, and a myriad of other juxtaposing descriptions all together. Is Bringer of Drought a modern day Pandora’s Box? Not quite, but it’s proof Phobocosm are full of surprises.