Her Cold Materials
(This Charming Man Records)

First off, full disclosure about this review. I am an artist and I was initially drawn (no pun intended) to this band / review by the amazing cover art. I am guilty of way too many impulse buys just on cover art alone. It has been hit or miss with this habit I have, but I can’t help it. Second I’m not an avid listener of Doom / Depressive Metal (the band calls itself Sludge, but I don’t quite hear that). Regardless I am always open and willing for new and different sounds to my ever-expanding musical input. So with PHANTOM WINTER, I was surprised and taken by their sound. At first listen I am getting a more blackish SWALLOW THE SUN, but also elements of later day SECRETS OF THE MOON. Further time spent with this release brings to mind FORGOTTEN TOMB and a tad bit of BETHLEHEM maybe?? If you are old school you may get a bit of MINDROT as well (a great now defunct California band, check them out). The lead in track ‘Flamethrowers’ gives a good introduction in what to expect. Here is where you hear the blackened Doom element, especially the vocals of Christian Krank. Then when the second track, ‘Her Wound Is Grave’, kicks in the more esoteric, depressive and maybe a bit of experimental sound takes hold. This song is not a song per se but an eerie, sonic soundscape with its spoken words, the continuous drone of the plucking guitar that stretches throughout the 9-minute track, and the chaotic drums that permeate midway through the song, lend to the overall mood. Such a well-done track and it carries such an evocative atmosphere. The third track ‘When I Throw Up’ (interesting title) is almost a part 2 of the previous track. It continues with a bit of the same experimental atmosphere. Again note the anguished vocals and at times dual-tracked with harsh and spoken elements. The guitar playing as well fits perfectly. When you listen further the songs become like a thread being pulled from a tattered sweater. They add to one another and almost connect and thus build the overall story. The production is good, open and airy. It contributes to the starkness of the sound and fits the cover art as well. I for myself personally would like the sound to be a bit warmer, more bass but that’s just me. So in ending this is such an interesting release. You get Doom without the Doom, Black without the Black, and not overly depressive but with a bleakness and atmosphere aplenty.,

Will “Bones” Lee

Will "Bones" Lee

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