Philm is not Slayer. Yes, it is a side project of Slayer drummer/legend Dave Lombardo, but it is not Slayer. Lombardo’s other side projects Fantômas and Grip Inc. were not Slayer, either, but for whatever reason whenever this poor bastard does anything outside of Slayer, pissers and moaners alike, shamble out of the woodwork and complain that it isn’t. Grow up. Or at the very least, put on Hell Awaits and shut the fuck up.
“Experimental” is a word I’ve heard to describe Philm, but I daresay it’s a label used only by those not familiar with Lombardo’s work outside of his main source of income. There’s nothing experimental about Harmonic. It’s a confident, deliberate debut by three exceptional musicians that demands your attention. While I typically loathe comparisons to other bands in reviews, I hear so many aural sense-memory triggers on this album while at the same time never sounding derivative of anything it reminds you of. This is a rare feat indeed, and it’s all wrapped up in a gloriously layered post-hardcore/post-apocalyptic vibe that leaves the listener with something new to appreciate on every listen.
There’s a cohesion to this collective that’s a real treat to listen to, with everyone carrying their weight and on equal footing. This is in stark contrast to almost ever other side project of whoever’s resting squarely on the shoulders of the more famous guy. Guitarist/vocalist Gerry Nestler has a raw honesty in his voice reminiscent of D.R.I.’s Kurt Brecht and as a guitarist will knock you on your ass on tracks like “Amoniac” and “Mitch” while at the same time gently rubbing the bruises with slow burners like “Way Down”, an album highlight.
Bassist Pancho Tomaselli is someone who I’ll be honest, had not been on my radar before this album, but that’s my error, shame and regret. This man kills it, resurrects the body, and kills it all over again. His work on “Exuberance” alone is worth the price of admission.
And as for Mr. Lombardo, well the man can just do no wrong. He shows remarkable restraint on Harmonic, with nary a single fill or flam more than the song calls for. His work in Slayer as a speed demon will probably forever be what is most talked about, but I implore you, gentle readers to rise above the din and really listen to Harmonic – there is so much more to this man and his work than that. At a time in his career when most drummers would be phoning it in with a ‘supergroup’ of questionable status, Lombardo has never sounded more in the pocket than he is with Philm. Check it out.