…And France is at it again, making exquisite music. It's not black metal as we've been accustomed to hear from this country throughout the years though. Well, there are some slight black influences but Atonal Hypermnesia is more than that, so much more.
In the industrial family, P.H.O.B.O.S. seems to be Blut Aus Nord's cousin and Uncle Godflesh's nephew. He's quite a sophisticated and independent relative though, using some of the mechanical aspects seen in Godflesh but taking away the bludgeoning and aggressive aspect of it in order to have a much colder and indifferent tone. Sounds similar of his compatriots can be heard in the highly dissonant guitars yet again the project's mastermind Frédéric Sacri demonstrates that he's one of the smarter cookies around by taking such sounds and molding them for his own purposes, slowing the riffing to a glacial and agonizing pace.
The result? A monolithic machine with its only mission being the dehumanization of our society. Four movements of calculated madness that transcends genres like industrial, doom, and black in almost an hour. Such crushing sounds demand a fitting delivery and I'm glad to tell you that sound-wise this album has been taken care of perfectly. The guitars are way back in the mix as if they were played underwater, giving plenty of room for the hypnotic and reverb-friendly percussion to hit your brain cells to the point you are left as an emotionless being. Don't think the guitarwork isn't important though! While being less upfront than the percussion, those great dissonant riffs are easily noticeable, providing some of the most memorable moments in the album with its droning ambience.
There's not much to say about the vocals, not because they're not good but because they aren't the main focus here. Considering the theme of this project, it's only natural that it doesn't sound too human. As if the whispers, screams and black-inspired vocals are just forgotten echoes from an apocalyptic city.
This is an album full of suspense where even silence is used as a tool to make the music more immense yet oddly enough, Atonal Hypermnesia is quite easy on the ears. There's not much abrasiveness to be found but more like a subliminal and constant state of uneasiness. Hopefully, the project's third album will serve as a wake-up call for fans of similar music to recognise P.H.O.B.O.S. as an entity that easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the bigger names. With the first half of 2012 reaching its end, this album is clearly one of the highlights.
- Rodrigo Ourcilleonl / may 2012 (9/10)