Philm - Harmonic
Ipecac Recordings
Experimental Rock
15 songs (1:02:14)
Release year: 2012
Ipecac Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

Everyone knows Dave Lombardo as the double-bass maestro that fuels Slayer's thrash attack, but his forays into experimental realms as part of Fantômas and with various other projects (the Drums Of Death album with DJ Spooky comes to mind) go unnoticed by many. Which is fair enough, as they're not for everyone, and I can't see fans of Slayer's relatively straight-ahead style being comfortable with the extremely diverse and ecletic mixture of styles thrown together here. First track Vitriolize, for example, builds up from initial, rather friendly humming to speedy assault, guitars buzzing and drums thundering in a very thrash-y style, broken immediately when the vocals come in, a post-punk rough yell from guitarist Gerry Nestler. It mixes both heavy 'noise' rocking and lighter, more proggy experiments well, if acting more of a sort of introduction to the chaos that will follow on the likes of Mitch with jazzy breaks.

Those familiar with Ipecac's output in general, and with the works of Fantômas especially, will find much to enjoy here - Gerry sometimes has something of a Patton-y vibe to his vocals (although I was reminded more of Voivod's Snake at times). At its worst, the album has something of a 90s groove metal vibe, some half-forgotten failed experiment from a respected band that fans are only too happy to overlook - Hun especially called this to mind, although the sinister outro helps smooth that. Yet you won't be disappointed with the likes of Area, which have a pleasant Alt-Metal vibe with interesting use of melody and a style not unlike modern Dillinger Escape Plan. And it's worth pointing out how interesting this album can be, despite its running time of over an hour. Those into the Ipecac catalogue will be willing to give Harmonic the time and attention it needs to really shed its secrets, after all...

...Yet for me, it was held back by the scattershot nature of the songs, some of which could easily have been scrapped to make the album more focused and less like a studio experiment. Take the slow, swinging Way Down, beginning with ominous simplicity and building into what seems like a freeform jam, spectacular guitar solo and intriguing playing from Lombardo (who is a damn fine drummer, easy as it is to forget) feeling like they were thrown in on whim rather than as an essential part of the song. The title track's ambient droning, again, adds little. Like a lot of experimental albums, what the listener enjoys and doesn't will largely depend on them - I found the jazzy, Zappa-fied Exuberance an exciting instrumental burst that more than lives up to its name, for example, and closing experimental thrasher Mild great fun. Shorter, heavier stompers like Sex Ampmake up the minority, all in all - this is definitely an album for open-minded types, although the Mission Impossible catchy hook from Amoniac will be hard for anyone to resist. A few moments like the harsh yelling in Dome aside, there's nothing aurally extreme here - ultimately, this very much feels like an initial album from a band capable of better once they knuckle down and bring a little more focus and self-discipline to the table, and I look forward to Philm proving they can write music that's as good as their instrumental skill.

Killing Songs :
Mitch, Area, Exuberance, Dome, Mild
Goat quoted 71 / 100
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