Phrenelith - Ornamented Dead Eyes - (8.5/10)
Published on September 27, 2018
Phrenelith, Phrenelith, Phrenelith. What are we going to do with you? How much awesome music can you release? It’s only been a year and a half—can you keep up this pace? Two Eps and an album and they’re all good? What gives? I smell something fishy here. But until your might falters, I might as well enjoy your magnificence.
For those unaware, Phrenelith is one of the bevy of extraordinary death metal bands from Denmark who are ripping it up right now (others include the almighty Undergang, Hyperdontia, Wormridden, and Taphos). Four of the five bands I’ve mentioned have one factor in common: David Torturdød, guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire. For Phrenelith, he plays Guitar and provides his toilet bowl vocals, both of which are always welcome. How can this man be in so many high quality bands and release so much good music in such a short period? You’d have to ask him that, but he is an animal, and I’m very pleased by it.
Out of all the excellent Danish DM bands, Phrenelith has the most monumental sound—it is utterly massive. It’s like the sound of an atomic bomb annihilating the landscape—or perhaps a Desolate Endscape, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down. Their characteristically apocalyptic sound is not lost on their new EP, Ornamented Dead Eyes. Released originally as a tour-only teaser, it is now out in digital form to blow mushroom clouds all over our unsuspecting homes (gross). So I’m going to recommend that before you listen to this thing, you get yourself some ointment, bandages, and potentially some draw-on eyebrows, because you’re not coming out unscathed.
Phrenelith’s meaty death metal continues to take much inspiration from Incantation, mostly in the form of hauntingly evil Tremolo riffs and cave troll vocals. Phrenelith’s sound is not quite the cavernous sound that many bands who take influence from Incantation have, however. The production is not exactly clear, but it is not shrouded in murk and mud either. This leaves room for all of the instruments to have their say throughout the all-too-brief ten minutes of music on this excellent EP. These two tracks are driving, mid-paced, murky death metal at its best. Both tracks feature excellent riffage throughout and a couple of tasty solos. Tuna (not a mistype) puts on an astounding drum performance as well. His sound is muscular, full, and powerful, while also coming across as nimble and graceful. He’s like a battering ram in a ballet costume. You heard me. The battering ram comes from his double-bass, which he utilizes to great effect throughout this monster, his frequent blast beats (“Ornamented Dead Eyes” has an especially vicious repeating blast about halfway through), and the atomic fills. Behind all of these, he also shows his skill with cymbals, which dance around the destruction gracefully.
Both songs presented here are to-the-point, memorable, and above all, destructive. I often find that I prefer Phrenelith in smaller doses. That is what makes their previous EP, Chimaerian Offspring, and this new offering so perfect. Both are about 10 minutes of pure and utter carnage that is kept short and sweet. As much as I enjoy their full length, Desolate Endscape, their sound is so aggressive that I often prefer smaller doses, and this fits the bill perfectly.
I didn’t realize this EP existed or was coming out until very recently. I am very happy that Phrenelith decided to bless us with more music, because they have been one of the most consistently excellent death metal bands of the past few years. This is some of the best and most monolithic death metal you are bound to hear this year.