Songs slow, stutter and suddenly speed ahead like a teenager learning to drive a stick shift.
Review by David Feltman
Christian technical metal might be a fairly obscure genre, but Phinehas is aiming to change that. The band takes its name from a zealous high priest who was known for running a spear through a man and woman mid-coitus to stop their inter-racial “mingling.” While maybe not the best example of God’s love, the guy does sound a little metal.
The mustachioed quartet leans heavily on the thrash. The charging rhythms rely more on the pinched squeals and shredding speed of guitarist Jason Combs than the typical blast beats. In fact, blast beats are nearly non-existent. Lee Humerian’s drumming is far more technical, demonstrating a penchant for changing time signatures on a dime. Songs slow, stutter and suddenly speed ahead like a teenager learning to drive a stick shift. That’s not meant as a slight. The songs are cohesive and intricately composed.
Singer Sean McCulloch combine clean with cookie monster vocals and in that aspect the band sounds like typical metalcore. But what the band is actually playing under the vocals is far more nuanced and technical than bands like Underoath and The Devil Wears Prada.
The Christian aspects of the songs do go largely unnoticed until the acoustic tracks start to kick in. It’s around this time you might begin to notice that this isn’t an album in the true sense but a collection of b-sides. Every song from “A Pattern in Pain” forward drops any metal pretense in favor of acoustic ballads. The tracks, unfortunately, lose much of their technical virtuosity and transform into fairly typical, fairly bland praise music. The band has real talent that is better served at 100 mph balls out metal, but they lose their charge when they unplug. But that’s the nature of these collections. They are often times a grab bag of songs and, well, they can’t all be winners.