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Philosophobia: Philosophobia

Here we have the debut album from progressive metal act Philosophobia, a band whose members have also played in Kamelot, Cyrha, Mekong Delta, Pain of Salvation, Kayak, and Wastefall, now finding themselves on Sensory Records for their introduction to the world. The band features Domenik Papaemmanouil (vocals), Andreas Ballnus (guitar/keys), Tobias WeiBgerber (keyboards), Kristoffer Gildenlow (bass), and Alex Landenburg (drums).

Philosophobia contains eight songs, the first being the near 10-minute "Thorn In Your Pride", a blistering prog-metal tour-de-force that features some wild ensemble playing, as does the nearly equal in length second song "I Am", the band once again showing their instrumental chops and allowing Papaemmanouil a chance to really show all his vocal styles, alongside guest vocalist Damian Wilson on the latter. "Time to Breathe" has a more atmospheric feel, like a cross between classic Queensryche and Pain of Salvation, a trend that continues on the moody "Between the Pines". Crunchy riffs, acrobatic keys, and thunderous rhythms permeate the furious heavy metal thumper that is "As Light Ceased to Exist", and there's a slight ethereal, gothic flair to the instrumental "Thirteen Years of Silence" that reminds of Evergrey in spots, mixed with a little Dream Theater during the solo sections. The album closes with the chugging "Voices Unheard" and the emotional "Within My Open Eyes", both enjoyable songs that provide a different flavor to what the band brings to the table.

Based on what's on display here, Philosophobia are off to a great start to their career, and I'll be looking forward to where they go next. Prog-metal fans, don't miss this one!

Track Listing
1. Thorn In Your Pride 09:26
2. I Am 08:38
3. Time To Breathe 05:13
4. Between The Pines 04:06
5. As Light Ceased To Exist 07:55
6. Thirteen Years Of Silence 04:57
7. Voices Unheard 06:23
8. Within My Open Eyes 06:27

Added: October 25th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1069
Language: english

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Philosophobia: Philosophobia
Posted by Ben Dudai, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-10-25 15:23:25
My Score:

The brainchild of longtime friends Andreas Ballnus (Perzonal War) and Alex Landenburg (Kamelot, Cyrha, Mekong Delta) Philosophobia was originally put together in 2007 recording several demo tracks with the intention to create a full fledged Progressive Metal project. Those plans however had to be postponed as Landenburg was recruited as the touring drummer for Annihilator while Ballnus became the guitarist for former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Dianno.

The project would sit on the shelf for a long time until in 2018 Ballnus would show the demos to his friend Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex-Pain Of Salvation, Kayak) who immediately loved what he heard and decided to join the project. With the new momentum came the addition of keyboard wizard Tobias Weißgerber and vocalist Domenik Papaemmanouil (Wastefall), and so they set about recording the band’s debut album in 2020 against all odds. That brings us to this self titled release…Philosophobia.

Musically Philosophobia is a blend of emotionally charged vocals, prog metal riffing with healthy doses of keyboard acrobatics and of course a small sprinkling of formulaic cheese…it wouldn’t be modern prog metal without it. Occasionally singer Domenik will throw in some harsher, borderline extreme metal vocals like in the song “Time To Breathe” for example. However that's certainly not what dominates this album at all. The majority is sung with clean and in many cases layered and harmonized vocals. The very next song “Between The Pines” really leans into the melancholy and gentleness. At many points throughout the album I get a strong Riverside vibe and on this song especially. When they get into their heavier riffing it is somewhat reminiscent of Prog legends Haken and bands of that ilk. Songs like the opening track “Thorn In Your Side” and “As Light Ceased To Exist” are good examples of this commonality. “Voices Unheard” is probably my favorite track on the album with its epic and powerful melodies.

Even though the execution is at a high level of proficiency the music itself which is certainly good and entertaining is however fairly formulaic for this style and I feel like I’ve heard it all before many times. The vocal melodies are also fairly strong but Domenik’s voice doesn’t really connect with me. I think that might be partly due to how it's mixed but also I’m not sure he has the power to really drive it all home. I’d be interested to see it live to really find out because on Philosophobia it’s unclear.

Philosophobia is an album that I think will appeal to fans of bands like Haken and Riverside. Their blend of melancholy, heavy riffing and laserlike keyboards is well handled if not also quite formulaic. An enjoyable album but I don’t see it setting the world on fire.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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