Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo's side-project Philm is defined by its ability to explore new horizons of metal-based soundscapes from a 'less is more' musical philosophy. That experimental ethos even extends to the Cubano's legendary kit which is whittled down to a four-piece set that still blisters with fury. The LA-based power trio rounded out by Gerry Nestler on guitar and vocals with Pancho Tomaselli on bass have carved out full spectrum dominance with today's release of the band's long-awaited debut Harmonic by Ipecac Recordings.
Philm's atmospheric 15-track effort traverses everything from realms of chaotic metal outbursts to tranquilizing jazz-fusion instrumentals – sometimes within the same song! The tone is established right at the onset with “Vitriolize” which displays the bulging vocal chords of Nestler's screams and the band's ability to seamlessly execute time signature changes that will have you frenzied and grooving all before the last note of the sonic assault fades.
A mixture of dark, ethereal and ambient sounds are captured on “Way Down” which feels like it emerges as an expression from the depths of a contemplative and troubled soul. The most compelling instrumental comes when vocals are silenced on the title track while “Killion” allows the rhythm section to flourish in its showcase. Throughout the album, the creative dynamic between the disciplined, decipherable foundation of the arrangements and the improvisational freedom unleashed from them strikes a perfect balance. Harmonic is neither too seduced by the allure of abstraction, nor succumbs to predictability – a welcomed achievement in the formulaic boredom that rock has been constrained by in recent years.
Individual songs will capture the listener's attention but its in the fluidity from the opening salvo of Harmonic to the final track that makes the album a complete beginning to end listening experience. The transitions, not only within songs but between them, are just as carefully crafted and that attentiveness is worthy of rock aficionados full attention.
But hey, don't take my word for it, listen to Philm's Harmonic online or better yet, see the power trio live tonight at their record release show at the Viper Room!
Philm performs with special guests tonight at The Viper Room, 8852 W. Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood. 7:30 p.m. $15. 21+