This rarely happens. I put a record on for the first time and, 80 minutes or so later, on the fourth consecutive spin, I am still quite happily sitting there with no urge to consider what to move onto next. No distracting excitement to hear other bands, safe in the knowledge that I can return to this obvious masterpiece tomorrow morning after a long evening of musical enjoyment. But I am relishing it, transfixed, hungry for more, nay, lusting for more! This is the only thing I will listen to tonight. What the fuck is going on?
Dephosphorus go above and beyond for grindcore. And from Greece too. I’m totally unaware of any identifiable scene in those parts, but somehow their very first recorded effort, Axiom, has bested the entire genre. I don’t even know what I’m saying now. It seems such a bold statement, yet also one of fact.
The band refers to itself as “astrogrind” and while it’s imperative to know the difference between coining a pretty neat idea and a stupid gimmick, the term is actually wholly justified. But what does it sound like? Well, let’s get this straight, there’s no chance of this “starting something”. Dephosphorus are the only band that could ever conceivably play this music – it is theirs and theirs alone.
They follow the guidelines of grindcore closely without being suffocated by them. And, as you’re probably aware, those rules are often so dominating that many other bands are unable to do this, content with the “Well, that’s how grindcore is played and we’ll leave it at that” mindset – a dangerous way to be, because it just destroys any potential for deviation and experimentation within the movement. Those guilty parties end up indistinguishable from each other.
Dephosphorus, on the other hand, are totally free from these shackles, soaring (or grinding) towards higher planes of expression for such unhinged brutality. It’s blindingly fast, yet they know when to show restraint; clearly grindcore but also so much more. Drawing upon all the best things about the most extreme facets of hardcore and metal, you never know where Axiom will take you next.
The record will spontaneously switch from punk, to death metal, to sludge, to black metal, to grindcore and back again, often for mere seconds at a time, and all the while sounding flawlessly cohesive. It’s unprecedented and frankly quite scary. But it also sounds like nothing we’ve heard before, like gazing on a beautiful and undiscovered world: vaguely familiar, but now full of colour, dynamism and, above all, freedom. Each song teases you right from the beginning, just to get better and better as the themes develop and ideas become clearer. Stark, memorable moments can be found throughout the record’s brief running time, adding an unparalleled flow and entertainment value.
So what is Dephosphorus? And what the hell is astrogrind? It could be atmospheric grindcore. Not to say it was never atmospheric in the first place, but it did have only one atmosphere: grind… and grind. Now it feels infused with new life, untethered and audacious. Or it could be melodic grindcore, bringing in such wide influences and knowledge that the music, however ugly, also has moments of sheer elegance and finesse. Or it could just be album-of-the-year-grind, but hey, that’s just me. Not since Khann has a band of this type impressed me so much.
Axiom – the “astrogrind masterpiece in seven acts” – can be downloaded for free at the link below. However, the LP (released by 7 Degrees Records) and other merchandise can also be bought from the same location. So give it a listen… Then give them your money. They’ve been honing their craft to perfection for three years, they deserve it.
And mad props to Black Uroborus for listening and discussing the album with me. It was very helpful and awesome fun.