I first came across The Phantom Carriage whilst browsing bandcamp for new things to hear. I tag searched black metal, saw the cover and clicked download. I wasn't quite prepared for what happened next. This record does have some black metal elements, but there's also hardcore, some mathcore, some jazz. Yes, jazz. New Thing is one of the maddest albums I've had the pleasure of hearing this year.
The Phantom Carriage are a French band releasing through Throatruiner Records. If you've heard of a band called Celeste, you should know what to expect here, France are truly putting out some excellent music at the moment. In this album alone, The Phantom Carriage have much in common with The Dillinger Escape Plan as well as French avant-garde stalwarts Deathspell Omega.
We kick off with "The Horses Feed Their Birds" and are immediately thrown into a maelstrom of sound. Black metal shrieks and technical drumming abounds. And then within a minute, the vocal style completely changes, reminiscent of the aforementioned TDEP. The guitars are doing things more akin to Converge than your standard black metal fare.
"The Wreck Of My Mental Ship" has some magnificent black metal drum progressions, mixed in with TDEP style vocal delivery and techy guitars. Like I said earlier, it's absolute madness, but it completely works. You feel like the band couldn't decide on which musical direction to take, so took them all. The most intense track on the record is "The Monument On Hendrick's Hill." The vocals are deep, howling over the shimmery drums, packing quite the punch and ending on a guttural note.
Then we come to the jazz I promised. Here is where the comparison with Deathspell Omega really comes into play. Although slightly more obvious in their jazz stylings, The Phantom Carriage are masters at mixing all of these differing elements into not only a coherent song, but a song that encompasses exactly what their press release would have you believe. Bipolar indeed.
Closing track "16-04-10" continues this album's descent into madness perfectly, again completely doing a 180 in terms of style within the first minute. It's mathy, then it's black metal, then it's tinged with hardcore, there's a jazzy interlude, then there's a vocal more at home in a grind track. And it closes on a terrifically sad, solo piano piece. I've never been more confused during one song alone. It's somehow brilliant without being alienating.
The Phantom Carriage truly have a New Thing on their hands here. This is a band unafraid to wear their musical influences on their sleeves. If you enjoy such wide ranging bands as mentioned here, New Thing is for you.
7.5 / 10
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