Phrenelith
Chimaera

After several demos, splits, and one full length album, the incredible Desolate Landscape from 2017, Phrenelith has finally returned to what seems like no fanfare. If we didn’t dig our way through the figurative promo bin, this may have been missed altogether. However, if there’s one task at which I am very accomplished, it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel. You can take that any way you wish.

Despite my fucking around in that first paragraph, Phrenelith will not be a part of such shenanigans. This album gets going almost immediately (short intro aside). Sure, there are some atmospherics to begin the first track “Awakening Titans,” but they last for less than a minute of this 7-minute opening track. Once the main guitar riff starts, you’re greeted with a familiar, almost Finnish rumble. This point is hammered home by the nearly Demilich styled vocal approach. The production is solid and a little murky, which is perfect for the style. The riffs are suitably chunky, skronky, and easy to discern somehow alongside the dissonance. The ending minute is where the atmosphere really takes hold with some nearly clean-picked guitar and the double bass hammering away in the background. It serves as solid segue into the next track.

That next track is called “Chimaerian Offspring – Part I,” and you’ll just have to hold on to see if there’s a part II (there is). This is a much shorter track at a little more than half the length of the opener, but no less vicious, of course. There’s a bit of that Swe-death buzz in the guitars here, which becomes apparent as they take over the second half of the track.

I’ll do my best not to review every single track, but the next one, “Phlegethon,” stands out with its atmospheric beginning. Despite a consistent pummeling throughout the album (more on that later), it wouldn’t be accurate to say there’s no variety, as the clean-picked parts a little over halfway through this instrumental prove (mostly instrumental as there are some growls in there).

Track 5, “Kykytos,” is perhaps the heaviest track here. Maybe the length at under 3 minutes has something to do with that distinction. Until the second half, there are also no vocals (minus a somewhat lengthy growl). Even those vocals don’t last long. They’re keen to just let the music punch you in the face. The way Satan intended.

After a very short instrumental, the final track, the one for which you’ve been waiting, “Chimaerian Offspring – Part II,” kicks in. It’s the closer and also the lonest track on the album. Despite several changes in pace, those changes can probably best be described as “lurching” and “slightly less lurching.” Death doom, baby. What do you expect?

After barely over 30 minutes of getting kicked in the teeth, how do you feel? Honestly, I feel fine. That’s kind of how I feel about this album, too. After 4 years, we get 30 minutes, and let me be clear in saying it’s a heavy, brutal half hour. I could have used a little more variety in pacing, perhaps in the vocal department as well. It’s still a welcome return from a very solid band. However, to sum it up bluntly, it’s year-end list time, I expected this to make a dent, and it has not. Take that for what you will.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
December 16th, 2021

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