I admit that I have a certain ‘heart’-thing for Bud Metal Records. I do not want to get too far (haha, you might get a wrong impression), but somehow the guy behind that label – and several related bands / projects – deserves respect and a virtual hug. But that’s personal, so let’s focus on the next step of this review.
Bud Metal Records is led by a very sympathetic guy from the North of America, who’s active as well in different projects too. Icethurs, Kabexnuv, Avitas, it’s just a direction to guide you into… But anyway, “Pat” - a truly kind, sympathetic (did I mention this before?) guy from British Columbia, Canada, and the entity behind both this label and the Vulcanodon Phazer project - did finish a new Vulcanodon Phazer album, a year and a half after the former one, which was called Cretaceous Skull (review on that one: see below for the link). It’s a nine-tracker, which lasts for about sixty-five minutes (!), being inspired by rather terrifying literature by, for example, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Robert E. Howard and Frank Herbert.
So, in case you have not been delighted with this material, this might be an introduction. Phantazms is not your ‘usual’ kind of Sludge / Stoner / Doom elegance, but that might just be the reason to pay attention. This band’s smokey approach differs from the grey masses, for this duo (besides Patrick Mytron, Volcanodon Phazer also consists of Lex Hill) has some distinctive elements / approaches. A first thing is the sound, being enormously sleazy, low-tuned, dirty and rough. The spine is like a monolithic wall of guitar noise, pounding, piercing, think’n’heavy-as-f*ck. However, that might bring me to probably the sole negative remark I have when analyzing Phantazms: the under-produced sound quality and somewhat inferior mix (probably, once again, recorded at Odin’s Den Studio). I don’t feel anything for clinically polisher production whatsoever, but this is quite the opposite. Therefor, the totality is too much like a mishmash of instruments, and unfortunately, this has its consequences for the drums and basses, for example. Behind the recording duties there are too many noises left, a murmur of sound, a mush of rustle. But then again, it ‘thickens’ the heaviness of this stuff for sure!
Don’t stay focused on that sound quality. It’s just a detail. Rather try to dissect the voices, for instance. They are clean; no screams, grunts, growls or barks are involved. Although, ‘clean vocals’ isn’t a correct definition either. It’s like foul singing out of tune, but hey, that’s so strongly fitting to the concept. And it surely gives the whole a unique old-styled vibe, that psychedelic twist that was not that uncommon at all four to five decades ago! And hey, the few Tom Warrior alike ‘ughs’ too are fun to experience. Also the few moments that have a rather echoing vocal approach (cf. a piece like Highgate Vampire Madness !!!) sound cool, strengthening the intoxicated totality. You might like it, you might hate it at the same time, but it definitely fits.
The sonic approach has a very psychedelic, trippy, hallucinogenic allure. The subtle use of synths / Theremin, the co(s)mic riffs, the unusual vocal use, it’s all part of the game. Yet above all, it’s the tempo that is just mind-blowing. An elegy like Laurasian Sacrifice or the first half of the very lengthy instrumental lullaby Ex Libris Howard Phillips Lovecraft are mighty examples of that monumental languor and lugging torpidity. Imagine Sunn O))) being mercilessly reconstructed by Glessite, you know… This specific piece (Ex Libris …) too has another remarkable elements: as from the second half: acoustics involved. Like rusty strings sweetfully touched by broken fingers, like a counterweight against paralyzing inertia, grim and moody, sordid and uncompromising.
Acoustic guitars reappear within other fragments as well. In Taste The Golden Oil it even has something Nirvana-alike, you know. Cobain and his crew didn’t sound that ‘clean’ either during their high days (‘high’ is an appropriate adverb, by the way). As long as the result is woozy, it’s all allowed! And more (analog) synth work and some Theremin on the background might be discovered within an aural trip in the vein of Temple Of Set, to give an example. As said: as long as the result sounds woozy, everything will be accepted with passionate grandeur and frenzy pleasure.
Recommended by / for sauropods on mushrooms…