Culled to a trio, Austria's Phi makes lots of noise on The Deflowering of Reality — a heavy, sometimes-catchy/sometimes-annoying EP featuring three songs that borrow from the likes of Tool and King Crimson. Notably absent are the atmospheric keyboards of Christoph W. Pirker, who left the band following the release of 2011's For the Love of Ghosts.
Boasting more instrumental passages than For the Love of Ghosts, this collection also finds vocalist/guitarist Markus Bratusa connecting better with the conceptual material, his voice overcoming the thin production on "Manager of the Year" and helping sell this band to an international post-prog/heavy alt-rock fan base. Additionally, Bratusa's guitar provides some of the band's more ambient sounds in the wake of Pirker's departure, but his vocals lose their way on the messy "Teenage Lust."
Phi's tendency to repeat choruses over and over, especially on "The Beginning of the End" (and perhaps in an effort to pad this 22-minute disc), cloys. But the band's musicianship, as on The Deflowering of Reality's predecessor, is what will really give this band a fighting chance in an overcrowded scene. Even stronger vocals and more consistent songwriting will help, too.
1) Manager of the Year
2) The Beginning of the End
3) Teenage Lust