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Philistine - Consume and Devour

Philistine "Consume and Devour" CD
[Space Ghost]

Hmmm... this duo has a lot of promise, but I'm not quite into it just yet.  Their style is a dark and generally slow brand of doom metal with lightly industrial undercurrents - inspired, in their own words, by Godflesh, Halo, Neurosis, and numerous others.  I'd maybe throw Christdriver in as a loose reference as well, but there are a few problems I'd cite with this effort that keep the band from reaching the level of intrigue and power that all of the aforementioned acts have achieved.  First off, they're only using guitar, vocals, drums, synths, and samples.  And that's fine, but the vast majority of the material sounds like nothing but guitar, drums, and vocals; and since they don't layer the guitar parts in a way that stands out there's a really hollow and stripped down feel happening that just doesn't fit.  I'm also confused as to whether or not the drums are programmed, as the performance is rather basic and the tones sound very digital, but it doesn't sound rigid/clinical enough to be a machine.  If you're going to use live drums, don't bother trying to make them sound like a machine, you know?  I do like a lot of the guitar riffs, which range from thick and sludgy chord progressions to dingy harmonic riffs or dissonant phrasings with a little more activity (reminiscent of early Crowbar perhaps), and the songwriting is pretty nice as well, but the recording definitely puts a huge dent in their potential.  The guitar tone is thick and fills the space well, but it has an unnatural sheen to it that doesn't work for me, and I don't like that the overall mix feels so stripped down and hollow.  I liked the somewhat cold and distant ring they've got going on, which almost flirts with a "Streetcleaner" kind of vibe, but there's simply not enough clarity or layering to really make things interesting.  Therefore, I'd definitely suggest layering in more obviously differentiated guitar parts (maybe adding in basslines as well) or synths/electronics to add texture and detail.  I do tend to really enjoy the vocal performance though, which is usually a straight shouting/yelling that really works well, at times shifting in other directions, be it singing or a lower grunt/growl.  Moments of "Voluntary Extinction" are a little too Godflesh in their vocal arrangements and shifts from the shouting over to a monotone singing style, but that's scarcely an issue in the big picture.  Oddly enough, "Jain", the longest track at nearly nine minutes, is my favorite from a writing standpoint - both in its consistency of riffing and the overall atmosphere achieved through a more focused sense of repetition.  The CD-R comes in a slim jewel case with some nice looking abstract color art on the cover and a black and white photo of effects and cords strewn across the floor alongside a self-titled Godflesh CD on the back.  Inside is a spread of a man being beheaded taken from an old painting alongside credits and such.  The cover looks very nice, but I have to confess that the rest is not as aesthetically pleasing.  Overall I really like where this band is heading, but they're just not where they need to be to properly demonstrate their vision yet.  Really the only industrial tinged elements are the synths, which are never prominent enough - even "Infestation", a brief synth/sample interlude, feels too quiet and lacking in detail to make a significant difference - and the electronic sounding drums, which are walking too much of a line to truly enter the realm of an "industrial" attribute.  I love the vocals and I'm very curious about this unit because I'm really into this style of music when it's done right, but these guys really need to push it to the next level by adding more texture and an efficiently raw clarity and grit (and therefore variety) to their sound for me to start taking greater notice.  But, if you're interested in this work, the entire demo is available for download via their website, so see what you think for yourself. (5/10)
Running time - 42:58, Tracks: 8
[Notable tracks: Crushed Under the Temple's Collapse, Jain]

Philistine - http://philistine.sexfordrugs.com

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