Phantom Winter continue to prove to be a post-metal juggernaut on their third full-length record, Into Dark Science.
Since the release of their 2015 debut, Cvlt, this prolific German act have been steadily pumping out releases and continuously refining their sound, pushing it further into darker realms than previously explored. Self-described as “winterdoom”, the band’s sound evokes a feeling of being trapped in a frozen tundra to be devoured by the elements, or something more sinister. Elements of sludge and post-metal are melded with black metal characteristics and post-rock crescendos, creating a sound that is equally massive, melancholic and menacing. Combine that with lyrical content that leans towards the depressive and the occult, Phantom Winter steadfastly walks a path toward utter pitch blackness.
This propulsion towards all things bleak continues in the band’s newest recording, Into Dark Science. With six lengthy songs and over 40 minutes at their disposal, Phantom Winter takes listeners on a journey lined with crushing riffs and haunting atmospheres. The record begins with eerie whispered vocals on the 10-minute “The Initiation of Darkness”, which lead into a thunderous march of colossal chords peppered with icy, somber melodies. This monstrous opening assault transitions into a lengthy interlude of clean, reverberating guitar chords and an unnerving recitation of Sylvia Plath’s “Witch Burning”. Soon the doom and gloom returns and what remains is an unyielding, five-minute climax of dynamic sludge riffs draped in ambient frost.
Another behemoth sized track, “The Craft and the Power of Black Magic Wielding”, serves as the album’s centerpiece. The nearly 10-minute track is a slow-burning leviathan that steadily builds from creeping, clean chords into barrages of galloping riffs and intertwining, venomous vocals. The post-metal chugging is often laced with ethereal, post-rock crescendos and frostbitten leads. The clean guitar intro makes an appearance once more before the track launches into a final onslaught of dissonant, seismic doom.
Then there are shorter tracks, such as “Ripping Halos from Angels” and “Frostcoven”, which run between five and six minutes in length and offer as much destruction as the album’s longer cuts. These songs break the mold by crafting bludgeoning, earth-shattering grooves as opposed to the lumbering post-metal listeners might expect. These huge riffs will often transform into nightmarish soundscapes that create a sense of unease in the listener. Layered, tremolo-picked post-black metal moments also make appearance on these tracks, cutting listeners down with a stampede of storming guitars and blast beats.
Three albums in and Phantom Winter show no signs of slowing down their progress. They set the bar high for themselves with Into Dark Science and it will be interesting to see how they top it.
Release Date: March 2, 2018
Label: Golden Antenna Records
Favorite Tracks: “Ripping Halos from Angels”, “Frostcoven” and “Godspeed! Voyager”
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Amenra, Hemelbestormer and Cranial