Review by Trevor Proctor.
With 2016 proving to be even more productive than 2015 in terms of releases it’s very easy for some titles to slip under the radar, especially when we also consider a lot of the underground media is focusing on some very high profile and highly anticipated releases. One such underground gem recently released that should not slip our attention is a 7” split featuring two very promising bands that are relatively new to the underground. The split is a co-release from two of the underground’s finest labels, Iron Bonehead Productions and Dark Descent Records, and features two excellent up-coming bands, both of whom have yet to release a full length album – Spectral Voice and Phrenelith.
America’s Death/Doom band Spectral Voice formed in Denver, Colorado during 2012 and since then have released five demos along with a split release. Two of those releases that garnered the band a lot of praise and attention were the Necrotic Doom demo and their 2015 split which they shared with Blood Incantation. Necrotic Doom was first released independently on digital formats and cassette in January 2015 but was soon re-released as a limited edition cassette by Iron Bonehead Productions in March 2015 with a CD version from Dark Descent Records released in November 2015. Their 7” split with Blood Incantation was released by Bleak Entertainment in September 2015 with an independently released ‘tour edition’ cassette following in June of this year. As stated and, rightfully so, both releases helped solidify the band’s reputation and following within the underground by showing the standard of music the band is capable of writing. Spectral Voice also released a tour promo cassette in June 2016 which featured two live tracks and an instrumental. Their track for this split, ‘Peeled Veins,’ marks their first output since then. Peeled veins’ is close to six minutes long and this short period of time is sufficient enough to further prove the band’s potential. The production levels are slightly improved when compared to their previous releases and to start with the tempo is slightly quicker than that on ‘Necrotic Doom.’ However, Spectral Voice slow the pace around the mid-way mark with a superb bass led drop before finishing with some intense riffs capable of cutting you in half at the tracks conclusion. Spectral Voice’s reputation and following are growing at a rate reflective of their ability and I hope it’s only a matter of time until we hear a full length album from them.
Admittedly I hadn’t heard of Phrenelith prior to this release but that’s the joy of split releases that I’m regularly banging on about – they’re an excellent way of discovering new bands and music. Phrenelith formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013 and in a similar fashion to Spectral Voice have released a number of demos since then. Their first was their self-titled debut demo which was released by Extremely Rotten Records on limited cassette in March 2015 and also released independently by the band on digital formats at the same time. Phrenelith released a further two demos on cassette via Extremely Rotten Records before releasing a demo compilation in June 2016 which featured five tracks taken from all three previous releases, again released via Extremely Rotten Records. Their track for this release is ‘Once Fertile Soil,’ is a five minute track that is their first new music since then and is also their first for inclusion on a split release. Instantly noticeable are the slightly murkier production levels which are perfectly suited to their dark and filthy Death Metal sound. ‘Once Fertile Soil’ is a cavernous, oppressive Death Metal track with enough influences to draw comparisons with “Eldritch Scandinavian Bestiality.” Quite a high tempo track with some serious guitar work and drumming, as with that of Spectral Voice, Phrenelith’s track is more than enough to show us this is a band definitely worth checking out and I’ll most definitely be trying to get a hold of their previous demos.
A track each from two extremely promising bands, released by two of the underground’s most reputable labels – don’t let this little beauty slip you by…
Side A - Spectral Voice - 'Peeled veins.'
Side B - Phrenelith - 'Once Fertile Soil.'