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Phlebotomized - Immense Intense Suspense / Skycontact (Reissue)

Immense Intense Suspense / Skycontact (Reissue)
by Michael "MettleAngel" Francisco at 05 May 2014, 1:19 PM

I am amazed how two decades have passed since the innovative full-length debut by the Atmospheric, Avant-Garde, Doom merchants PHLEBOTOMIZED first graced and left a buzz in my ears. When I heard their mellow reverberations, I felt instant ataraxia, as if being suspended from all worry, but also as if I had just undergone an intense venesection, left with my ears bleeding from their immense compositions.

I remember how excited I was 20 years ago to purchase my own copy of “Immense Intense Suspense” on CD. After I heard the “Preach Eternal Gospels” (EP), I was hooked on their unique, volatile sound. In fact, one of my earliest reviews put in print was for “Immense” and my words were published in Denis Gulbey's third issue of “Sentinel Steel”.  Most readers did not like the harsh vocals, and thought my taste was way off, with the musical direction. Then again remember how Bernard Doe first felt about “Into The Pandemonium” by CELTIC FROST?

Keep in mind; this was way before the Internet. Obtaining import CDs could prove quite expensive, and a challenge to secure here in America. This was also when this style of “music” was beyond description. There were also egregious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors which made the songs and lyrics standout even more for these European acts.  Hell,  MY DYING BRIDE did not even get their Latin words or text accurate on their '92 (EP), but the artwork and albums at this time still made you think and ponder just like the goofy looking grey Golem creature on the original cover of “Immense”.

Dennis Geestman's very brutal vocals seemed similar to what UK Grindcore bands like NAPALM DEATH, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, or CARCASS were attempting to achieve, but then his mellifluous clean vocals were rather unique not unlike what some of the Gothenburg acts were accomplishing. The music itself was Metal, but with no real definition of its characteristic qualitative sound, which was all over the map utilizing many classical instruments like violins, cellos, and other string arrangements. They also included odd keyboard and synth type arrangements championing many of the club style '80s acts like NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, DEAD ALIVE or ERASURE.

This was indeed a very evolutionary time when DARK TRANQUILLITY, THERION, MOONSPELL, PARADISE LOST, etc. were all experimenting with expanding their trademark sound. Hell, MY DYING BRIDE did not even get their Latin words or text accurate on their '92 (EP), but the artwork and albums at this time still made you think and ponder just like the goofy looking Golem creature on the original cover of “Immense”.

The only other band even similar to PHLEBOTOMIZED from the Netherlands were THE GATHERING. I celebrate their debut “Always…” as its heavy grind sound was a far cry from the female Gothic style they would later become recognized for in the years to come. In fact, just as THE GATHERING had a chance to make a change on their sophomore effort, going for an almost FAITH NO MORE epic feel; relinquishing their soul, before stealing the show, so were these dubbed forswearers aching to modify and qualify their sound resulting in the weirded-out “Skycontact”. Talk about losing your cookies at the disco.

This makes writing this review a challenge for me because as much as I adore 'Immense” for what it is and the precedent it established, I can only tolerate “Skycontact” which is too self-indulgent. The lyrics are not as strong, and only having one new guitarist instead of the dynamic team of Jordy and Tom made the music lose its edge and abrasiveness.

Thankfully, Hammerheart have chosen to reissue them together as a two disc set with an extensive booklet, which I would love to see, as I only have the digital promo. They have also combined the instrumentals and songs together. This makes the last song “I Hope You Know” a tedious 22 minutes long, whereas on my original CD each track was separate. I think this worked better and may have been the band's original intention, then again perhaps not. One bonus track is added, another instrumental called “Dizz-tance” which makes the purchase sometimes worthwhile for the new breed of those devoted to the odd.

Either way, “Immense” alone is worthwhile. On this masterpiece they crossed a new barricade of emotion and passion. Even now as I am playing this, I am sinking in the subtle misbalanced liquidity of the violin passages by Maarten, found on “Dubbed Forswearer”, while melting with the streaming guitars and expansive keyboard elements all held in place by hyper fast drumming and almost funk like bass tones. Gone is this talent and evocation on “Skycontact”, replaced by more techno inclinations, and too much psychedelic drivel.

With both albums, I did not notice too much of a remastered sound which I could detect on the 2013 Vic Records reissue of “Preach Eternal Gospels”. Since I have my originals, I am content, but if you are feeling a sense of desiccation, as if this present scene is being bled dry, and in your search for tranquility, you find yourself wanting to revivify the early '90s experimental, burgeoning Death Metal scene of this era, then there is no better choice than to get bit and PHLEBOTOMIZED.

3 Star Rating

“Immense Intense Suspense” - CD 1:
1. Immense Intense Suspense / Barricade
2. Desecration Of Alleged Christian History
3. Dubbed Forswearer
4. In Search Of Tranquillity / Subtle Disbalanced Liquidity
5. Devoted To God
6. Mellow Are The Reverberations
7. Gone

“Skycontact” - CD 2:
1. StoleShowSoul
2. Achin'
3. Sometimes (Instrumental)
4. I Lost My Cookies In The Disco.
5. Dizz-tance
6. I Hope You Know (In Four Parts).
“Immense Intense Suspense” - Lineup:

Dennis Geestman – Vocals
Tom Palms – Lead Guitars
Jordy Middelbosch – Rhythm Guitars
Ben Quak – Keyboards
Maarten Post - Violin
Patrick Van Der Zee – Bass
Lawrence Payne – Drums

“Skycontact” - Lineup:

Dennis Geestman – Vocals
Jordy Middelbosch  – Guitars
Ben Quak – Keyboards
Jaro Struljater – Bass / Violin
Lawrence Payne - Drums
Record Label: Hammerheart Records


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Edited 03 February 2023

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