ALBUM REVIEW: KOLLAPS\E - PHANTOM CENTRE
SAVAGE POST-METAL SLUDGE DEBUT FROM SWEDISH BRUTALISTS
KOLLAPS\E hail from Sweden and with only an EP from last year to their name Phantom Centre is their debut long player. Admirably, the band persevered with the making of the record remotely during the pandemic with little in the way of studio experience or recording time. The band are unconcernedly open about their chief musical influences which they cite as the leviathan post-metal progenitors Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Breach. Those are indeed all helpful stylistic way markers for KOLLAPS\E’s foreboding sludgy aggro post-metal.
There can be, however, a fine line between a proud acknowledgement of artistic influences and an admission to imitating them. Certainly, the shadow of KOLLAPS\E’s musical influences loom large throughout Phantom Centre. There are obvious stylistic similarities with the harsh and tempestuous dissonance of their heroes. Yet while Neurosis have latterly experimented with folk-noir, druidism, and sparsity and Cult of Luna have delved into softer contrasts and brittle subtlety KOLLAPS\E favour a sound that is rougher, sludgier and less refined. The rawness of it is perhaps closer to the grungier (for want of a better term) Neurosis’ Time of Grace era.
A rising unsettling current of samples heralds the opener ERA which is vicious mid-paced post-metally sludge. The abrasive chugging is almost like Thou jamming with Isis or Pelican at their heaviest before rousing melody patterns rise to give the track an uplifted dimension. This and Beautiful Desolate demonstrate a cantankerous, rumbling metallic vibe. It is a muddy, corrosive, organic production yet weirdly heavy engine like with a clanking, jarring bass. So it comes as welcome respite when the soothing reflective tones that linger as an introduction to the instrumental UHTCEARE tingle and throb for a couple of minutes. This track is where the band display a grander scope interplaying cranky, discordant tension with loftier mindful highs. It is a web of textures mostly bound in indistinct wavery heaviness. If you want to call them post-metal then KOLLAPS\E certainly have the latter part of that term. ANAEMIA is stormy, strident and bellicose while the cold and organically industrial stamp of BRÄNT BARN SKYR ELDEN show the band at their most uncompromising, savage and metal.
Phantom Centre is a strong debut with convincing accompanying imagery and art work. KOLLAPS\E pursue a sound that has been piloted already but have a dangerous tinny fury which is uncomplicated but not one-dimensional. The band do not rely on traditional post-metal/rock lulls and builds nor do they strive for the sheer planetary beginning-of-the-world epic scope of Neurosis or Cult of Luna. Instead their noise is more claustrophobic and confrontationally intense. The vocals are invariably and relentlessly caustic, delivered with a spiteful snarl which the guitar sound is slightly fuzzed and thumpy like a Soviet era tank clunking through freezing mud and snow. It is a sound that is low-fi, ugly and organic yet has the sense of an apocalyptic steel smelter. And while, of course, the big names of post-metal have frequently been guilty of failing to edit the egregious lengths of their albums when it was really needed, KOLLAPS\E are more succinct with shorter tracks – which is wise given their brutal edge. The band only periodically and briefly dabble in hushed tones but, when they do, it is compelling. Perhaps that is an area they could explore further in the future. In fact, Phantom Centre shows great potential for this band to develop and hone their own thinking-man’s apocalypse.
Check out KOLLAPS\E on bandcamp: https://kollapsemusic.bandcamp.com/album/phantom-centre