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PHI: Cycles

Arguably, we might never have heard of Black Sabbath if Tony Iommi hadn’t sliced the end off two of his fingers in an industrial accident and then how the false tips he employed on the offending digits reacted with the strings of his guitar. Not such an earth shattering occurrence, but for PHI guitarist and songwriter, Markus Bratusa, slicing his index finger open while carrying out his role as an amateur chef resulted in a temporary change of tack that may prove to become permanent. For while he knew his injury would heal, writing music in the meantime looked to be off the agenda. That is until the injured band leader moved from composing with his guitar in his hand to putting his ideas straight down on paper before hearing them proper. On Cycles, his band’s fourth full length offering, the results are that this Austrian outfit have become a surging djentified monster where a modern guitar sound is aligned to something more traditional in its Progressive base.

Hearing outfits such as Threshold in this band’s sound is entirely possible and yet so it is to imagine PHI opening for Meshuggah, or for that matter Tesseract. Bratusa also handles vocals with no little skill, as well as contributing some synth work to Cycles. Alongside him for this recording were long-term collaborator Nick Koch on drums and (since departed) bassist Arthur Darnhofer-Demar, while new addition, Stefan Helige, makes his debut on guitar. Together this ever altering line-up have formed six lengthy tracks that straddle brutish, technical and catchy rather nicely. In fact the band’s name PHI can be translated to mean The Golden Ratio, something Bratusa claims to have been long searching for and to have subsequently found with his new album.

Dive headlong into “Dystopia” and it’s hard to argue, the thunderous guitars intertwining with a searing, melodic and lengthy solo as the track wends towards its end. However the journey to get here has been staccato and jagged, yet laced with forceful, if beautifully controlled, vocals. “Amber” slows things a little, a mid-paced kick of adrenalin a buoyantly believable beast of burden, as guitar licks and flicks spark and spin away wildly. Yes there are synth textures keeping everything in place, but that is all they are doing - creating a backdrop and adding to the atmosphere and mood - for this is a guitar album and proud to be so. Something confirmed on the lethally sharp “Existence” and the slow build and more keyboard heavy “Blackened Rivers”, which closes proceedings in (ever so slightly) more refined fashion.

Combining current ideas with retro values and then delivering it all with a contemporary edge that avoids scene chasing, PHI have indeed found, as they say in Austria, their ‘golden cut’. Cycles maybe leans just a little too heavily on its influences from time to time, but if can put that to one side, it’s one hell of a ride.


Track Listing
1. Children of the Rain

2. Dystopia

3. In the Name of Freedom

4. Amber 

5. Existence

6. Blackened Rivers

Added: July 31st 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: PHI online
Hits: 448
Language: english

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