PHALLUS DEI: Black Dawn 2xLP/CD Dark Vinyl
With an extensive musical career behind them and releases stretching back to 1988, you could be forgiven for thinking that a band like this is way past its peak. Far from it, if this new material is anything to go by.
Droning guitars are savage in their approach on opening track, ‘Slewed’. Industrial clatters and Dark Ambient fill out the backdrop of a cavernous production that adds to the brutality. In stark contrast, the Darkwave synths of ‘Starman’ provide their own drones, doubling up in a loop with organic instrumentation. The resulting hypnosis, becomes all the more peculiar once the Jazz lunacy of saxophones, blare out unexpectedly, providing a visceral, apocalyptical backdrop to the proceedings. If anything this was reminiscent of some areas of SWANS’, ‘The Seer’. Great stuff.
The threatening atmospherics of ‘Zauberwald’ provide genuine tension; as layered instrumentation build into a huge monolith of sound, with only the whisperings of lunacy and distortion for company.
With the spacious ambient of ‘Krieger’ providing the only break in the proceedings; it’s worthy of note that this still also manages to belt the listener with hammer-like doom precision, leading up to the guitar noise of the end game that is ‘Stigmata’, that provides its own horrors.
In parts, ‘Black Dawn’ is heavier than a sack of spanners. The true genius lies in Phallus Dei’s attention to harmony amongst a sea of aural bloodshed; providing an intricately layered slab of an album that is as impressive as it is destructive. It could just be the best new album I have heard this year.