Phoebus Cartel

The Ishihara Method EP

Written by: LF on 01/10/2014 14:02:47

The progressive and heavy rock band Phoebus Cartel from Esbjerg, Denmark are one of the more intriguing upcoming bands currently. I was turned on to their music by witnessing a couple of their live performances in the spring which were equal parts explosive and atmospheric, making for a very immersive total experience. This is only enhanced by the fact that they are also a band with a message. They take their name from a cartel that was meant to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs, and the EP itself takes its name from a common test for color blindness. This framing of the music over a theme of vision and corporate conspiracy is further developed in the at times sinister and political, at times dreamy and abstract lyrics, creating a whole universe in the music to lose yourself in. On this self-released EP they have managed to convey this message, while creating a progressive hard rock sound that is clearly inspired by the music of bands like A Perfect Circle and Tool, while also being very much their own.

Most songs of the EP are longer than five minutes, marking Phoebus Cartel as a band that take their time with building up moods. Every song has an intelligent song structure and stays interesting for its entire duration, and that is indeed no small feat on a debut recording like this. The band members successfully develop each song, letting it go through what feels like different phases, while mostly maintaining verse-chorus structures with the occasional very catchy melodies. Furthermore, every member of the band has obvious skill with his instrument, combining varied drumming with gripping and technical guitar work across songs. The entire EP thus consists of solid material, and while the second song, "Life In Treason", with its explosive chorus was initially the most addictive track for me, I am having an increasingly hard time singling out one or two songs over the rest.

Some of the songs float slowly forward, being melodic and sinister, namely "Asylum Enemy" and "Times Are Changing". The former features some absolutely haunting guitar details that go well with the ghost-like vocal effects, while the latter emotionally twists and turns, both absolutely capable of sending chills down your spine. Other songs are markedly more steadfast and rhythmically focused, mainly "Coming Closer", "Difficult" and the most obviously political of the songs: "The 99". The band's vocalist has an incredibly strong voice throughout, most impressive when he explodes into screaming from time to time, while the more melodic parts could need some polishing even though he is already capable of gripping me with the most emotional parts of his singing, as in the quieter parts of "Life In Treason".

What all the songs of the EP have in common is their clear sense of direction and purpose that gives them an air of inevitability, and they seem to refuse to let you go when they've first got their hooks in you. This energy that is so entrancing in a live setting is mostly brought onto the recording as well, while the production could still use slightly more work to be spot on. All in all, I am confident that Phoebus Cartel is a band that has the potential to go places with their music and I can only hope to see them do that in the next couple of years.

Download: Life In Treason, Times Are Changing, Asylum Enemy
For The Fans Of: A Perfect Circle, Stone Sour, Audioslave, Amorphis

Release date 05.06.2014

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