No need to be subtle about this full-length debut from these Swedes; it is an amazing Post Metal/Sludge Metal-release with hints of Post Rock in between the multilayered music. The album is varied, it is furious, it is heavy, it is complex - yes, it ticks off all the parts that high quality Post Metal music consists of.
If you are a Swedish band and venture into the sludgey waters of Post Metal, you will automatically be compared to Cult of Luna and Breach, as we mentioned three days ago when we premiered the second single off of this album. But when listening closely, other influences come to mind too, bands like Icos and Burst. The last band especially in the song ”Beautiful Desolate”: an extremely dense, complex, and versatile song with some nice melodic lines hidden in the depths of the heavy sludgey-ness. Here the band does what Post Metal does best - go beyond mere Metal. The drive and force are strong not at last because of the groovy low-end bass and the drums that push the riffs and the vocals. In between, there are breathers and the music is lifted by a slightly high-pitched guitar soloing in the layers of the music.
So, placing themselves musically in the middle of all these influences, the album title Phantom Centre is highly descriptive. The opening song, ”Era” is a superbly composed song as it opens with intense sound effects that swirl faster and faster before it yanks you forwards with a heavy and compact wall of sound driven by drums, low-end bass, heavy sludgey, distorted guitars to support strong harsh vocals. It is as terrifically crushing as music like this should be. There is a subtle shift and the music broadens out less compact until they take a breather to let some air in before it lifts and widens out, gliding forward as the instruments seem to be on alert for the next onslaught. The sonics take a deep breath and we are ready for the next onslaught with subtle layers of a slightly higher-pitched guitar swirling in between the rhythm section before the song comes to a staggering end.
”Uhtceare”, the third track, is an instrumental which develops a rich and subtle meaning. The opening is foreboding with dreaming glissading guitars and then there comes a shift to some echoing string-strumming. And then the beast inside slowly wakes you up with some hard riffing anxiety accompanied by an immense bass leading the proceedings into heavy Post Metal sonics with subtle ebbing and flowing melodic themes. The bottom drops from the soundscapes and a deep hole opens, but it is soon filled by harsh guitars being pushed by the low-end bass. A fizzy guitar appears on top of the strong yet vast music leading into a melodic theme. The ever-changing sonics are driven forward with ponderous drumming until it all fades away and opens up a wide relaxing flatland with echoing instruments to help you start a new day at dawn.
If you listened to our premiere, you have heard that ”Anaemia” is another diverse song, driven by versatile drumming, hitting very hard with rolling bass as the guitars glide over those basic instruments until the strong and harsh vocals bring yet another aspect to the soundscape. The music enters the fast and furious side of Post Metal before it loosens up. In the end, it implodes and proves that the song is the opposite of what the title indicates.
With a Swedish-named title ”Bränt barn skyr elden” (“Once bitten, twice shy”) the band lunges into a fast, on-point piece of Post Metal where the sludge elements are racing forward after a seeping start by slow swirling instruments. A short intro to the fast riffing accompanying the harsh strong vocals. Small bursts of a lone strumming guitar open the sound. Throughout the song, there is sometimes an undercurrent of a melodic theme in the layers. It ends with a dissonant guitar appearing in the midst of the soundscape.
The album closes with two songs that previously have had versions out on a couple of samplers by Ripcord Records and on the band´s own release in 2021, The Pandemic Sessions. It were those two songs that made many Post Metal lovers prick up their ears. ”Radiant/Static” comes out with wide sonics and together the instruments give an immense drive to the musical force as a high pitched Post Rock guitar glides in and soars above the layers of the song. ”Murrain” is a punch of a song with a rolling start before runaway riffs open up for the strong harsh vocals deeply embedded in the sound. There are constant shifts, but no pause as the song surges forward sometimes broken by bursts of trudging riffs. Mid-section, the heavy sound effectively gives way to a wide-open breather by a clean guitar before the heavy music gushes back and overflows the clean guitar that lingers on a bit before the music fades away.
So, compared to Cult of Luna and Breach and other Swedish bands, how does this record come out? It is not fair to compare a debut with those veterans, but it is natural to think in that direction both because of the genre and the nationality. If we go back to the beginning of those bands, KOLLAPS\E definitively has carved their rightful place on the Post Metal scene with their own take on the genre with this awesome release.