PHONOMIK, Soul Creeper (2010, Nightmare)
If I’m mistaken, this is a first for Big Dumb Skulls: an underwater skull. Yes, I joked that SKULL38 might be peering out of a submarine, but there’s no denying that this fella here is hanging out under the sea. Probably somewhere in the Caribbean, considering the clear turquoise water and white sands. Then again, I guess this might not even be a real skull, but one of those ceramic ones sold at pet shops to decorate your aquarium. It’s a niche accessory catering to the thin sliver of overlap in the Venn diagram of tropical fish and vampire enthusiasts.
I was really expecting shitty death metal when I started spinning Phonomik, so it was quite a surprise to find that they’re a quirky, kind of funky progressive metal band with a unique sound, good vocals, and catchy songs. Wonders never cease! Their sound is very modern, with downtuned guitar and a distinctly nu cadence to the vocals, inviting comparisons to both Evergrey and Fair to Midland. The singing is a bit nasal, but it still works for me, and with songs built around strong vocal hooks and an almost playful bouyancy from the keys, Phonomik have a winning formula on their hands. I would like a little more activity in the guitar riffing, but that risks looking the gift horse in the mouth, so I’ll just content myself with the unexpected small pleasures afforded me.
— Friar Johnsen