Cognizance
Phantazein

I became a fan of the UK’s technical death metal band Cognizance, from their Inquisition EP, their debut release in 2013, and reviewed it back then.  I was pretty blown away by the array of technical wizardry and monstrously brutal moments.  The band reminding me of Beneath The Massacre/Obscura type of music.  After releasing a plethora of EPs the band scored a record deal with Prosthetic Records and in 2019 their debut album Malignant Dominion was unleashed and what a ferociously brutal, but rather short album it was.

Upheaval followed in 2021, at the height of COVID and that was a super strong follow-up to the debut.  Since that time the band has signed with Willowtip Records and Phantazein is their third album and it’s quite a start for 2024.  For several releases the line-up has remained intact therefore there is a strong continuity of their sound and musical compositions.

With 11 songs in 41 minutes the band has opted to create their longest album yet and “Ceremonial Vigour” gets the ball rolling out of the starting gates.  No fancy intros, just a strong musical build-up with some dissonant guitars and drums before a nice drum roll as the song gets faster and the mid-paced double bass drums at the 50 second part will lop your head off, as the band then switches to a monstrous blast beat with some incredible guitar solos over the blasting madness.  Henry Pryce’s vocals still sound super powerful and again, much similarity to Beneath the Massacre, in the vocal department with that deep, yet clear aggressive approach.  There are also some Suffocation influences in the guitars and some of the vocal tones, of classic Mullen.  The song is such a strong opening album, which sets the stage.

 

“Introspection” has a cool 90’s era death metal starting gallop with a killer groove swooping in at the 20-second moment.  The start and stop moments then get right back into that classic gallop and the guitars sound incredible on this song, and then BOOM-right into a monster blast beat, then slowing down with a progressive guitar solo, and then the solo continues over a smoldering blast beat.  The guitar riffing at the 2-minute mark is quite excellent along with the drum rolls as David Diepold is bashing those drums into oblivion and that blast beat at the 2.50 mark is so sharp and tight…terrific.  I would hope this song gets played during their live sets.

“Broadcast of the Gods” starts with such a monstrous opening with the double bass rattling your cavity fillings.  Excellent guitar work and more blasting tendencies throughout the song.  The stop-on-a-dime moment at the 2.15 section, allows us all to catch our breath with this nice atmospheric/ethereal moment.  The song gets into heavier territory with various tempo shifts galore.

“Shadowgraph” ends the album and the dual guitar work of Alex Baillie and Apostolis Karydis prove why their guitar work should not go unnoticed, as this song has more excellent guitar work and Chris Binns’ bass guitar work is there, as an undercurrent, not distorted, just adding to the rhythm section.  The 2 minute mark with the guitar solo over the bouncy beat is very cool, reminding me of Gorod.  The triggered as fuck (TAF) double bass part prior to the 3 minute mark is massive and it goes great with the music.  I really would like to see if he can pull off that double bass speed, without triggers, though.  More tempo shifts and some spoken word vocals before the gruff vocal attack returns, before the song ends.

For me, UK’s Cognizance, has gone under the radar for far too long.  I am hopeful the record label shift will assist in garnering the band more accolades because the band is just as talented as many of the bands in this type of technical death metal genre.  It would behoove the band to get some touring under their belts too.

Phantazein is an excellent album by Cognizance with another great production, with the clarity coming through perfectly, making the instruments sound electrifying.  This folks is how you start off 2024, with a bang and not a whimper.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
January 9th, 2024

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