Album debut: Dephosphorus – Ravenous Solemnity

Greece’s Dephosphorus are difficult to sum up. They call themselves “astrogrind,” which doesn’t mean much. Grind that sounds like it’s from space? Grind about space? Grind that has space in it, compositionally speaking?

Ravenous Solemnity has all of these characteristics at some moments and none of them at others. But given their self-applied tag and sci-fi DME lyrics, Dephosphorus are remarkably non-astral. Indeed, they don’t even sound particularly Greek. If I wasn’t in the know and had to guess their origin, I’d probably go with the United States. Like many modern American metal bands, Dephosphorus have no bashfulness about mixing their food on the plate: punk meets metal, black meets death, grind meets doom. In fact, you don’t notice ingredients at all when you’re ingesting this album. Instead, they’re blended to smoothie consistency and thickened with loads of triplet-feel blastbeats before being compressed down into terse packets.

Ravenous Solemnity’s songs average just over three minutes in length, but a lot goes into each ground-and-pound burst. Riffs appear just long enough for an attentive listener to internalize their details; all remaining space is given over to unspeakably violent rhythm shifts and Panos Agoros’s hollow shriek. Dephosphorus work with dissonant, technical material, but they don’t perform that material in the studied fashion of many chop-intensive metal bands. Those tempo shifts hit so hard because they’re just a little human; every stuck landing bespeaks thousands of hours of collective practice. But again, you don’t really think about any of that. You just feel the brainstem-level jolt. It’s smart material deployed to caveman ends.

I’m not very familiar with Dephosphorus’s past work, though I’ve now listened to both of their other full-lengths. Though a friend told me that this one marks a shift back towards the style of their first album, Axiom. Perhaps it is, but when I listen to Ravenous Solemnity, I have trouble thinking about it in terms of the album as a whole. Its intensity locks me in the moment. Why think about career arcs and atmospheric tweaks when the d-beat that just came out of nowhere has its grip on your neck?

Ravenous Solemnity will be available on February 10th via Handshake Inc. (American vinyl), 7 Degrees (European vinyl), and digitally via Bandcamp.

— Doug Moore