By Ellen Eldridge
Once again, I find myself trying to explain that fine and shrinking line between gratingly abrasive and heart-poundingly cathartic—the kind of music that lets you unleash a day’s worth of intolerable bullshit from an unrelenting boss or a lifetime’s worth of oppression and misunderstanding. Granted, I less often feel the need for unfurling my fists and screaming my lungs away as I did at, say, 15, but I still have those days as do many people.
If more people had albums like Phinehas, The Bridge Between less mass shootings would be necessary. Really, the more manic and angry the music the less individuals would need to hold back. Just head out to a local club surrounded by five of your closest friends and sweat it out to a song like “Well If The Earths Are Stopped, The Fox Faces The Hounds.” The refrain “Open the gates” in track 3 “David and the Gate” resonates as a mosh pit song should; just from my speakers I can already imagine the reverb pulsating off a crowd.
Grab deep down for the guttural moans and vent; but, not to make Phinehas sound like nothing more than screaming: these guys have melody and skill. Guitarist Jason Combs regularly punctuates his solos with pinch harmonics and his speed rivals thrash metal guitarists.
I’ve never been a fan of the genre title “Christian death metal” and though these rarities and b-sides are self-described as “Christian Technical Metal” that doesn’t mean much to me either. I always felt those in the grace of any God shouldn’t feel so angry. Not that all people religious or otherwise aren’t at times oppressed or otherwise beaten down; it just doesn’t seem fitting for a “Christian” band to be so angry—I mean, doesn’t the Bible say something about making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord?
After the assault that is the first three tracks, Phinehas settles down just enough to take a seat at an acoustic guitar and powerfully strum through the melodies in “A Pattern in Pain,” which contains the lyric line for the album title.
“Enkindler” adds more lyrical content for those who might want to dig deeper than the surface as far as metaphors. “If the world gets cold then why don’t I build a fire?” sits pointedly at the edge of an acoustic guitar, but its message of implied hostility feed the turmoil within. This is quality text for belting out. Even the change later where the line transforms into “we build a fire” draws out the possibilities that this song could signal an ending relationship. So much to work with….
I’m truly delightfully pleased with both the punch packed by Phinehas as well as the ability to shred and sing. The album artwork stands out as inviting with its deep reds and haunting with its hollow eyes. The direction of all aspects of The Bridge Between makes this album well deserving of attention. Fans of bands as varied as Five Finger Death Punch and Slayer should appreciate Phinehas.
Phinehas’ The Bridge Between is out today (1/22) on Red Cord Records.