Album review: PHI – The Waves Of Sound Remain

PHI - The Waves Of Sound Remain

Gentle Art Of Music   [Release Date 03.11.14]

Despite being described by Phi themselves as ‘art rock’ this Austrian 3-piece’s musical debut screams progressive rock all day long – although, it has to be said, the prog metal template of Tool coupled with Porcupine Tree’s more languid moments are the real touchstones here.

Salivation certainly occurred when I realised the album was on Gentle Art Of Music records – the label owned by RPWL, one of the finest progressive rock outfits in Europe at this moment in time.

This dried up on first listening – I suppose I was expecting another RPWL and they are certainly not that.

Thrashing guitars, double kick-drum buffoonery and even a bit of death growling conspired to knock the senses around at first but on subsequent listens a different picture emerges – a picture of a well-constructed rock album with many twists and turns, and, despite the initial reaction, not a small amount of subtlety.

Nine tracks in all and things get under way with great subtlety with the chiming guitar intro of ‘Buy Your Piece Of Love’ – but just as the slippers are being reached for and the light dimmed, a muscular Wilko Johnsonesque riff crashes the party and sets the tone for what follows.

The diversity of the music on offer is dazzling at times; ‘Welcome Tomorrow’ has more changes of mood in eight minutes than many albums have in their entirety, the guitar of Markus Bratusa is exemplary on ‘Maybe Sometime Else Then’, and the Tool influence on the rifferama of ‘Behind A Veil Of Snow’ is there for all to see.

The true highlight however is the ten minutes plus (now tell me that ain’t prog) of the title track which wears its Porcupine Tree influences boldly on its sleeve – a pastoral acoustic beginning, an uplifting, anthemic, guitar-led middle section segueing into a cacophonic break down.

Inevitably there are a few bum/custard interface scenarios, not least on ‘Tune In, Zone Out’ where the staccato guitar riff is pummelled into submission by the double kick-drums and the dreaded death growls make their wholly unwelcome appearance. One of those ‘what were they thinking of’ moments.

Despite this nonsense, fans of Tool and PT will find much to like on this album and the sheer diversity of what’s on offer makes it a recommended purchase for devotees of the heavier end of the rock spectrum – though things might have been enhanced a little with the introduction of a few keyboard swashes here and there to provide a touch more light and shade.

This, and giving the death growls the swinging Size 10 – they’re not clever, not funny and more than a little passé.  ***1/2  (half a star deducted for growling)

Review by Alan Jones 

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 24 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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