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Phase X – Rock City

Phase X
Rock City
by kenn staub at 16 August 2020, 10:46 PM

Formed in 2013, Berlin’s PHASE X uses snarling vocals, distorted guitars, a few samples and scratches, and drums to produce their version of nu metal/rapcore. Influenced by bands such as LIMP BIZKIT, SUCH A SURGE, and GUANO APES, the German five-piece released their first full-length album, “Rock City,” at the beginning of the month (August 7, 2020). A self-described “brutal sound mix,” “Rock City” combines metal, hip-hop, and electronic elements into 34 minutes of auditory aggression that begs to be played loud.

The album’s title track and opener, “Rock City,” lays out PHASE X’s musical formula. Fabi’s basic, but thundering drums provide a repetitively pulsing beat over which Casp and Kai put down a layered, riffy guitar refrain. Holg’s bass playing contributes to the dense rhythm that propels the melody. Marco’s rapping is distortion-free, clear to the listener (even if one does not understand German and much of what is being said). In sum, the track, like most on the album, is catchy and has a powerfully driven simplicity the listener can groove along with.

Mach Deinen Job” (“Do Your Job”) and “Mach Die Augen” (“Open Your Eyes”), the next two tracks, in order, are similar to the opener. Both songs feature choruses that stick in the listener’s head, with that of “Mach Deinen Job” having call and response potential for when it’s played live. The tandem guitars complement each other as the play over the drums, while Marco’s growling vocals flow along with the music, conveying a sense of urgency and, at times, menace.

The fourth track, “Fahne Hoch” (“Flag Up”), was a highlight. The chorus summarized my positive feelings about the album (“Turn it up, Bring, bring the noise”) and the track has a neat little guitar hook that caught my ear. Up next, “Bang Bang,” which appeared on the band’s 2016 EP, features a cool fuzzed-out, funky guitar line.

Just when it seemed the tracks on the album were getting a bit formulaic, along came “Nimm Meine Hand” (“Take My Hand”). A change of pace, the track begins with a cymbal crash that segues into an almost techno intro. The song, though sticking to the driving nature of its predecessors, has a clear, poppy quality. It finishes with a slower tempo than that from which it began, concluding in an almost grandiose manner. One of the more guitar-driven tracks on the album, “Mach Platz” (“Make Space”), follows. This song, with its shifting tempos and guitar riffage, was another from PHASE X’s self-titled 2016 EP. “Spring” seems to be PHASE X’s take on “Jump Around” by HOUSE OF PAIN and has a nice bass line running throughout.

The final two tracks of the album, “Wo Willst Du Hin” (“Where Do You Want To Go”) and “Alter Mann” (“Old Man”), respectively, were probably the most technically complex, with clearly defined instrumental parts shining through. “Wo Willst Du Hin” is almost spare in parts, has strong bass playing, and shows the group’s ability to harmonize together on the choruses. “Alter Man,” though riffy and hooky, demonstrates an intermittent plodding quality that, along with Marco’s anguished screams toward the end, give the track a serious quality.

In “Rock City,” PHASE X has shown themselves to be a tight unit. The 1990s stylings can be clearly heard, complete with syncopation, strong driving rhythms, and tuned down guitar riffs. All tracks are polished, well played, and show the band to be in fine form for what they do. And what PHASE X does is, in the most complimentary manner possible, “bring the noise.”

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Rock City (3:19)
2. Mach Deinen Job (3:09)
3. Mach Die Augen (3:07)
4. Fahne Hoch (2:39)
5. Bang Bang (3:26)
6. Nimm Meine Hand (3:10)
7. Mach Platz (3:17)
7. Spring (2:20)
8. Wo Willst Du Hin (5:23)
9. Alter Mann (4:04)
Marco – Lead Vocalist
Casp – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Kai – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Holg – Bass
Fabi – Drums
Record Label: 7hard


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Edited 23 March 2023

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