Phantom – The Epilogue to Sanity

Phantom are a mysterious band with no information on them apart from various claims that range from their music being called Terror or Phantom metal and that they are there to completely innovate the genre and to create acoustic terrorism. While such claims have been spurted by many artists in easy marketing attempts or to stir controversy before an almost identical band makes the same claim and receives their mandatory fifteen seconds. Phantom unlike other bands, seem sincere in their objectives and genuinely try to live up to these claims.

An incredibly harsh aesthetic is the first thing that one notices on this album but where most Hessians are used to the lo-fi recordings of analogue Black metal, Phantom completely defy expectations and opt for a digital approach that ressembles harsh noise. This aesthetic seeks to go further in sheer brutality than what was previously possible while retaining clarity and not devolving into noise like War metal. It seems that the guitars are set up through multiple high gain distorsion pedals pushed to the limit. The drums are broken down into the background, sounding like dry pieces of wood hitting against each other in almost random patterns while coming slightly more to the forefront when opting for a standard supporting role. Vocals are muffled distant screams that are easily missed in the chaos of this music and don’t really provide much as they sound inhaled and distract from the guitars. The bass forms the main wall of sound and due to its deep tuning and straight forward rhythms it create the base from which both guitars can do almost anything they want. The guitars are well distinguished as they diverge and converge on a very regular basis. Despite the intense nature of the music there is a slight sense of dynamics as the beginning of each musical phrase is louder than the rest and certain notes ring much louder than others. A very interesting method of recording that does well by pushing the guitars up front but the rest of the instruments could have been handled with a lot more care and should have been slightly more present with overshadowing the guitars.

The note selection here is very similar to that found on Onwards to Golgotha in that rather than basing their melodies around particular scales and modes the melodies are based on chromatic sequences that are then complemented with angular notes. When the guitars diverge, they rarely fall into the lead/rhythm dichotomy but opt for a layered approach where one guitar will play the main melody and the other adds on top of it. It is during these moments that the band manage to conjure the most madness as seen on songs like “A World of Silent Darkness” where the guitar panned to the right plays a simple melody that is countered by the other guitar on the left in opposition as it emphasizes the weaker beats of the main melody. More often than not, the band go into complete Death metal mode as both guitars will join together to play short melodies that work in short labyrinthine cycles of three to five riffs before then returning towards their Black metal rots. Some of these melodies are very impressive in how they build tension and then relieve that tension while maintaining complete dissonance. If one gets past the production, the melodies though well executed are standard fare and the less inspired use an abrasive noise like approach to cover for the little content they possess.

It is impossible to categorize the entirety of the musical language present here as the band fall prey to Technical Death metal riff salads. Melodies come and go rapidly and sometimes after only being played once to never return in these long pieces. Occasionally the band strikes gold but are too obsessed with progressing towards the next idea to take advantage of such moments. When the band return to the aforementioned riff cycles as seen just before the ending of “Premonition from the Bloodstained Throne”, the listener is finally given an opportunity to truly absorb the large quantities of information being presented as the song develop a sense of purpose.

This leads to the greatest issue present here. There is no actual sense of overall direction within each song. Each composition can be divided into coherent sub sections that all flow within each other but when united make no sense. There is no sense of structure as it is impossible to estimate when each piece will stop. The major transitions between melodies are so abrupt and random, one must check whether they are still listening to the same song. “The Epilogue to Sanity” begins with a set of two great melodies that are very powerful individually but make absolutely no sense in juxtaposition. Each track follows on from the first in a complete blur and is only separated by a brief burst of feedback and noise.

Phantom’s large body of work in such a short time does seem to explain many of the problems presented here which can be attributed to a lack of care. Phantom do have one thing going for them and that is the continuous improvement between their records. Despite such improvements, the band must learn to control their production and to give meaning to each of these songs otherwise these will remain glorified experiments in noise rather than actual metal. An interesting record to listen to a few times when one seeks to have their limits or to hear new takes on a dying genre but the lack of songwriting holds this back heavily and pushes this to the level of “study” music where the individual concepts utilized here are more interesting than the actual music.

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27 thoughts on “Phantom – The Epilogue to Sanity

  1. retard jesus says:

    hey nick nice job on the description of the technical aspects of the aesthetic. but you misinterpret one of the features of the composition as a deficiency

    the clue is in the aesthetic itself; obviously phantom are serious about their position on anti-commerce* and they put the “poseurs be fucked” up front immediately. however they take it a step further and subvert the expectations that even seasoned “metalheads” hold sacred. they’re basically doing the same thing as ildjarn they just write actual music and not intentionally retarded punk rock

    the arrangements have “too-short” riffs but none of the riffs are throwaway quality and you’re not supposed to pick up on the arrangements easily like you would listening to say old gorguts or even something like suffocation which, while having crazy riff mazes, use extreme dynamic shifts to clue you into the change ups – shifts that phantom forego, instead keeping the drums cruising along enslaved to the melody which dominates everything. again it’s just a matter of furthering their point that purest metal is not friendly

    of course this could just be a personal interpretation because it certainly a YMMV point. however I don’t find the riff arrangement obnoxious or disorienting whatsoever after a handful of listens

    again thanks for taking the time to review, as I feel this is great music and a perfect counter to the encroaching hipster/orthodox/inverted triangle faux occultist weaksauce like deathspell, anaal nathrahk, etc

    *see the “merch” store of their label The Satan Records, they’re selling “luxury” shirts for 75 bucks and even a watch for 400. this is obviously a middle finger to consumerist faggots

    1. A Need 2 Kno says:

      Do they also sell limited edition pink vinyl?

      1. retard jesus says:

        no but I got something limited and pink for you in my trousers

        1. A Need 2 Kno says:

          I’ll take 10 in cash monies! Then sell on ebay.

          1. retard jesus says:

            wise purchase! you will be receiving a large package soon ;)

    2. NH says:

      If their position is “anti consumerist” they are still being consumed and aiming to earn the market commodity of “fame” and “value” rather than $. If we talk about them, write articles, discuss their profound “underground” cred, we are placing market value upon them. They may believe they are avoiding $ thus somehow more valuable as they are earning the listeners “respect”.

      Art tricks of the street artist sort. Claim of anti this or that but in the same fuckin game as any artist. Don’t believe there is any kind of art that can avoid consumption and value. If you listen you consume and in your consumption you place value. If you say “ they are against $, how cool” you are perhaps giving them more value.

      Modernity Nonsense.

      1. retard jesus is less retarded than you says:

        your reading comprehension sucks

        I said they were anti-commerce not anti-consumerist

        also you’re confused about your terms

        has anyone spent money on their shit? have you bought any of their CDs or shirts or patches or stickers or pins or shoes or thongs or socks?

        commerce is the exchange of capital. if none of that is happened then phantom are obviously serious about their position on not being commercial

        as for being consumed; when was the last time you saw phantom advertising themselves? they aren’t even on metal archives. afaik me and like one other blog are the only ones championing their music

        silly knijit

        1. NH says:

          It is also not anti commerce. It’s value and “cred” increases by word of mouth, articles and user comment “believers” that it has a value. The commerce is trading your Time, Attention and Word of Mouth to increase value in a market of music listeners, in this case a perhaps “underground” markets.

          This has been the go to recipe of the Avant Garde, the rebelling Art Movements since the late 18th Century. A manifesto laden art war, at that time, against the Industry and modernity. Both left and right created a myriad movements with objective. Often reactionary, like this project – it is reacting against $, not realizing it is creating market value either way in its reaction or protest. Commerce is unavoidable. One could not sell one album but commerce is still occurring, even if it is totally hidden and traded by secret, value is occurring.

          1. genius jesus compared to this bloke says:

            you’re just plain in error to conflate the concept of value with commercial utility

            or are you playing 4d chess here by illustrating with your posts a statement of TRUE anticommerce? ;P

    3. This band is a million times more subversive than Gorguts on Obscura in that they attempt new things and try to push extreme metal further but they seem to be a bit too desperate in doing so. Hopefully their next outings keep improving like they have been doing up to now. Now if someone could teach me some of those riffs.

      1. retard jesus says:

        bro check their albums DIVINE NECROMANCY, WITHDRAWAL, or FALLEN ANGEL if you want to learn riffs. the sound on those albums is actually way clearer than that on EPILOGUE, which is extremely harsh even compared to what is typical for the band

      2. Creed Braddock says:

        If you want me to take a stab at something, let me know.

  2. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

    Fuck the trends, grab a brew, throw on some Phantom and rape the trannies! Sodomize the shemale ass! My brothers, we must rise and destroy the ass of the transsexuals! No tranny shall be spared. War and metal! Hail Phantom, death to the tranny!

    1. Wokest nigga in the jungle says:

      The future is trans!

  3. These guys are fucking trash, listen to us instead! We just dropped a new album.

  4. Psychic Psych Toad says:

    1349 x Deathspell Omega x Krieg

    Divine Necromancy is like the Pure Fuckkng Armegeddon demo combined with Joined in Darkness and Ildjarn.

    1. retard jesus says:

      funny you should say so, the first thing I thought when I threw on DN was ildjarn x demoncy, which is basically havohej, though phantom were obviously going with a more classical through-composed style of riff arrangement rather than the havohej/profanatica droning hypnotic repition

  5. Nuclear Whore says:

    It’d be nicer a more organic sound for that noise. Example, somewhat:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cfXkuBrN1M

    I like the idea of Phantom, though.

  6. Captain Rhodes says:

    Ive been listening to this while driving, reading, staring at cobwebs, and petting the dog. It’s good for at least two of those.

    1. retard jesus says:

      I have been revisiting my Lovecraft library while listening to phantom and it goes quite well as a sort of background soundtrack since there are no major percussive dynamic shifts that tend to conflict with the flow of the written narrative

      Altogether phantom’s sound is far more “Lovecraftian” than the bands who purport to be inspired by old HP like The Not-So-Great Old Ones and Ch’tha-illest

  7. Claudia Roth says:

    Layers of horrible ear piercing noise to hide the bands lack of ability to write actual songs or memorable riffs. Techno-tribal drums noodle about in the background. This sounds like something a pot smoking hipster carefully put together on his laptop, maybe inspired by video game soundtracks.

    If you want dissonant noise, I’d prefer metal bands to take this kind of approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4EuJUXqc-M

    1. bloodypulp says:

      nice

    2. Metal Police says:

      The perfect embodiment of “circus music.” This is what Aosoth would compose if they all took meth and kept doing whippits.

      Outward overbearing emphasis on disorientation to mask the total lack melody in logically sequenced riffs that relate to real life struggles and triumphs.

      Your sentence is 10 complete playthroughs of Slayer – Show No Mercy and 10 complete playthroughs of Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion.

      1. bloodypulp says:

        its jazz bruh. i think their best album is Revenge

        weasel walter, the drummer, has worked on some metal shit. hatewave:

        https://youtu.be/53iuvhAiCKA

        and some drumming for burmese

        1. Metal Police says:

          No, Weather Report and John Coltrane play jazz. This garbage is dissimilar from jazz in every dimension and metric, from the general structuring, arrangements, musical techniques, scales, and instrument array, to the entire spirit, motivation, and overall “point” of the genre.

          You can’t just excuse your bullshit by calling things whatever you want. This is circus music for druggies/adults with the attention span of a four-year-old. Animals As Leaders is also circus music but it has more jazz in it than this.

          1. bloodypulp says:

            gladly you can write off bullshit by calling it whatever you want. but my point was just that it is clearly not metal. implying that it need not be judged as such. i think op was just saying that it would be cool to apply some element of the texture of something like the flying luttenbachers to metal songwriting technique. i was just trying to give more context to it. in which case it should be said that weasel walter is a self described no wave musician who spends of good chunk of his time playing free improv type stuff.

    3. TheLord says:

      That’s pretty much it.

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