Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 7/26/2005
posted on 7/2005 By:
Although originally formed as a four piece five years ago, during the modest output of one EP, one demo, and a solitary live performance, the membership of P.H.O.B.O.S. quickly eroded to two, and then to one. Frenchman Frederic Sacri now stands alone, contributing guitar and vocals, as well as considerable programming and drum machine duties. Based on the sound of Tectonics, I’m guessing Sacri was too fucking ill tempered for his bandmates to endure. This is one cold and cantankerous chunk of metal, and if one man can spew so much viciousness, one has to wonder what could be accomplished with three other like minded collaborators.
Tectonics, P.H.O.B.O.S.’ first full length effort, is an offering of venomous blackened industrial doom influenced by bands like Godflesh, Skinny Puppy, Voivod (as if the band name didn’t tip you off), and Neurosis. The echoing mechanical programmed percussion and Sacri’s hateful snarl take center stage on the uniformly slow, droning tracks. Riff work is usually in a support role, providing chunky rhythms between the mammoth crashing of the factory-like drum sounds. Tectonics is a very demanding album. At first listen, I was impressed with the band’s sound, but by the end of the album I was ready to pull my hair out, in part due to the lack of variety in tempo and melody (what little there is), but also because Tectonics is simply a super-sized serving of sonic tinfoil. I took the only reasonable course of action—I listened to it again, only louder. Much fucking louder, actually. Cranking up the volume or using headphones is the only way the listener can truly appreciate the fullness of this album. Under the jarring clamor of percussion and vocals there is, along with the riffs (which need to be louder), a dense layer of programming noise that writhes and pulses with a cold mechanical hatred. This holds the songs together and gives them an opaque, impenetrable quality. This kind of material, highly repetitive and painfully consistent in tone and pace, requires layers and hooks that will mesmerize and lull the listener. Tectonics makes one work harder to find these subtle hooks, and the album could definitely use more variety, but repeated listens will reveal a darkly attractive experience.
P.H.O.B.O.S. has little use for choruses, and in fact even melody is used in small doses. “Nihil Credo” is the closest thing to a traditionally structured song, using a graspable melody and oft repeated chorus. Sacri also tosses in some ambient elements, on the instrumental “Engulfed in Seduction”, as well as the extended intro of “Inseminator/Matrix”. But for the most part the album consists of punishing, extended sessions of foul, slow burning industrial aggression. There is little that sets these tracks apart from one another, so attention is drawn to occasional variances, like the female tortured shrieking at the end of “Monochrome Red” and the spoken word, Skinny Puppy-like vocals on “Dormant/Dead End”. Tectonics takes a bit to warm up to, and will definitely have a limited appeal, but will be consumed hungrily by a contingency of metalheads. Look at it this way, if you don’t like Tectonics, you will have only been annoyed by it once—if you fall for it you can take pleasure in the certainty that your neighbors have countless nights of annoyance ahead.
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