Album Review: Philm – Harmonic

Undoubtedly the main reason anyone is going to check out Philm is because Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame is behind the kit. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but the reason Lombardo has sought out another creative channel isn’t due to boredom in the Slayer camp. Those hoping for 60 minutes of Raining Blood-type thrashing may be in for a disappointment.

Instead, the music on offer is much more 60s than 80s. Lombardo’s kit is stripped back to a small scale 4-piece set up, meaning that there is no expansive range of crash cymbals or multiple bass drums. With only two other members in the band, the noise Philm makes is incredible.

On opener ‘Vitriolize’ the trio use their potentially small sound to layer their instruments in a crescendo that ends with trademark Lombardo blastbeats. Instead of repeated lowPhilm Harmonic Artwork E notes on the guitars though, the distinctive sound is that of a lo-fi garage band from the Woodstock era. The vocals are punkish, while the bass is high enough in the mix to give the whole thing a grungey feel.

More surprising is where the album heads. While the tracks surrounding the middle section of the album aren’t too left-field for Lombardo when you consider his dayjob, it’s around the half way point that ‘Harmonic’ truly shines. The title song is an ambient soundscape, with reverbed guitars and muted drums providing a tribal-like track. Prog monster ‘Exuberance’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mars Volta record, with the bassline providing a constant rhythm for both guitarist and drummer to experiment over. The jazz drumming, fully utilised even with a small kit, combined with the virtuoso soloing makes for a sound that comes out of nowhere half way through a typical garage rock record.

It’s this mish-mash of genres that makes ‘Harmonic’ such an interesting listen. It is overly long, yes, and at times repetitive, but this never detracts from just how rewarding it is. An incredible sound is made by just three men who are clearly having fun, making a sound that borderlines on simply jamming. Whether you’re a fan of thrash, jazz, prog, garage, sludge, or ambient soundscapes, ‘Harmonic’ has something for you.

Rating – 8


About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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