[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(47:26, Gentle Art of Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Children of the Rain 8:55 2. Dystopia 8:50 3. In the Name of Freedom 7:25 4. Amber 7:41 5. Existence 6:50 6. Blackened Rivers 7:45 LINEUP: Stefan Helige - guitars, vocals Nick Koch - drums, keyboards, vocals Markus Bratusa - vocals, guitars, keyboards David Loimer - bass, vocals
Prolusion. Austrian band PHI was formed back in 2006, and started making a name for themselves before breaking up a few years later. In 2011 the band reformed, and in their second phase of existence they have developed a style and presence that again have seen them steadily creating a presence for themselves in the contemporary scene. Following a slight pause of four years, the band returned with their fourth studio album "Cycles" in the spring of 2018, a production that was released through German label Gentle Art of Music.
Analysis. Phi is a fairly good example of one of those modern bands that cannot really be tied into any one subsection of the progressive rock universe. Not due to being all that challenging and groundbreaking as such, but rather because they play around with style details from both progressive rock and progressive metal. Hence they may well be described as belonging into any of those categories, depending on what aspects of their music you decide to focus your attention on. Personally I'd state that this album at least is one with it's feet firmly placed inside the metal part of the progressive universe. Not because the metal riffs dominate as such, but because they are such a big presence when used. The booming bass and gnarly riff cascades are of such a nature that you really need to have some fascination for and with metal to enjoy compositions featuring these elements. At the most intense I actually got associations towards the kind of metal often referred to as djent, although I should add that this is a minor aspect of the total album experience. Otherwise Phi are good at playing around with contrasting themes and arrangements, pairing off gentler passages with harder hitting ones, using light toned and dark toned instrument details to craft both striking contrasts and majestic sound tapestries, and a wee bit of textured instrument details find their way onto this album as well. Mos tracks feature at least one slower and often sparse atmospheric passage or interlude, breaking up the nerve and tension ever so slightly but also explored in a manner that adds additional nerve and tension when the full arrangement strikes back again, so to speak. Clear and concise lead vocals also functions as a contrasting feature to the hard, booming and gnarly instrument details that is a common feature throughout, as well as to contrast the mainly dark and occasionally cold atmospheres the band have chosen to focus on this time around. A welcome return and a return to good form by a talented, modern progressive rock / metal band, hopefully a return that will see them expand their fan base ever so slightly as well.
Conclusion. Phi as of 2018 comes across as a dark, quirky and tight band that conjures up their very own brand of harder edged progressive rock with strong progressive metal tendencies, existing somewhere inside a triangle where bands such as Tool, Porcupine Tree and Riverside forms the outer edges. A band and an album well worth taking a look at if this is a description that strikes you as appealing.
Progmessor: July 30th, 2018
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]