• Phrenelith "Chimaera" CD
Nuclear Winter Records
Phrenelith have always struck me with similar cosmic circles but different spheres of classicist death metal style fitting in best with the new breed of atmospheric death metal that’d arisen just beyond the era of what many had taken to calling “caverncore”, a trend of intentional murk, grittiness, and/or atmospheric production values presented with great love for Pillard-era Incantation. Groups like Swallowed and Krypts would begin to elevate the cult traditional death metal artform away from the on-the-nose ‘Onward to Golgotha’ wavelength that’d been so pervasive at the time, pushing that sound unto the very edge of esoteric death/doom metal territory in the mid-to-late 2010’s. The early notes on Phrenelith in approach of their debut full-length (‘Desolate Endscape‘, 2017) were mixed in terms of their approach representing both familiar aspects of caverncore, primarily sound design, and their own unique utilization of said atmospheric death metal sound — A feat neither fully evolved nor explicitly throwback. In fact I’d bought that first record that year primarily because I couldn’t seem to make sense of it in preview, the first impression was somewhat shapeless, droning in a pleasant way but selective in committing to bigger riffs. From my perspective all of this is entirely virtuous trait, having been a huge fan of bands like Cruciamentum and Dead Congregation for years and finding most all of Phrenelith‘s material matching that level of insidious, dread-amplifying totem.