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Phal:Angst - Black Country

Black Country
by Tim Bolitho-Jones at 02 March 2015, 10:11 AM

Let’s be honest for a minute, when you saw a band called PHAL:ANGST had released an album called ‘Black Country,’ you thought it was going to be about someone from Dudley getting anxious while eating a particularly hot curry, didn’t you? It isn’t. They’re actually from Vienna, and are a distinctly odd Post-Rock group, formed when two pre-existing bands (PHAL and PROJEKT ANGST) decided to merge. They list bands like ISIS, NEUROSIS, GODFLESH and SWANS as influences, and "Black Country" may be one of the weirdest albums you hear for months.

Unfortunately though, it’s also staggeringly dull. It’s a long and meandering record, plodding morosely through stark instrumental passages that never seem to end. Just take the title track for example; at under eight minutes it’s the shortest on offer, but for most of the running time it consists of no more than some flat vocals over a few sparse keys. There’s no atmosphere or excitement, and it feels four times longer than it actually is.

They liven up slightly with "The Old One Has To Die And The New Must Not Be Born", the guitars getting heavier and the vocals distorting to create an Industrial/Black Metal vibe, but it’s still hugely disappointing. You can tell they were hoping for something along the lines of Atilla Csihar meets Justin Broadrick, but they’ve instead ended up closer to Super Hans and Jeremy from Peep Show jamming after inhaling aerosols. Hold the note down, the longer the note, the more dread.

Unless you’re an ardent fan of PHD Music Students improvising on Cassio keyboards for close to an hour, there’s nothing to recommend about the remaining tracks either. You have to commend them for doing something different, but that doesn’t make this any more entertaining. This is not a hot, spicy Phal, hell it’s not even an impressive Biriyani. It’s more like a bland, uninspiring Korma that’s dripping in grease and only has two pieces of under-cooked chicken in it.

1 Star Rating

1. Hardwire
2. Black Country
3. The Old One Has To Die And The New Must Not Be Born
4. Black Milk Of Mourning
5. Theta
PH – Vocals, Harp, Kaoss-Pad, Xylophone
AL – Guitars, Vocals
Angst – Electronics
Kev - Bass
Record Label: Independent


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