I think we can all agree that the metalcore market is more than over-saturated at this point. What does it take to make a memorable impact these days? Giants in the field such as ABR and Prada stay interesting by taking fairly progressive approaches, and of course are still succeeding. The far lesser-known veterans in Phinehas, however, managed to pull off an unadulterated release with their latest LP “Till the End”, continuing true to their own Mustache Metal style.

This comes after a significantly less impressive effort from 2013. “The Last Word is Yours to Speak” just lacked something special to me, being weak on the cleans especially and repetitive elsewhere. “Till the End” addresses these issues head-on and blew me away in every hook, plus gratuitous solos and unpredictable breakdowns. The difference? Daniel Gailey, full-time guitarist while the inimitable Becoming the Archetype is on hiatus, has taken over the position of head stringist, and I’m willing to bet his new perspective on songwriting had a part to play.

Not to say the album is faultless. 15 tracks sounds cool at first, until listeners realize they have to slog through three annoyingly void interludes. I’m sure they serve some purpose in the band’s eyes, but it pretty much ruins an otherwise fluid progression from my view. Sounds like they took one bad page out of Silent Planet’s book, who happen to be their twin counterpart. A couple breakdowns are a bit cringy as well, but these are more easily overlooked, because you know, breakdowns.

Phinehas has long suffered accusations of being generic, and while TTE isn’t 100% groundbreaking, there’s plenty of superior material to go around that is, if nothing else, more engagingly done than flocks of aspiring or popular MxC groups. Verse-chorus-verse-chorus formats are ok when the verse and chorus are actually innovative, and Phinehas brings in equal parts heavy and beautiful with each track.

To be honest, I almost skipped this one after hearing the lead single, “Dead Choir”. If that was your experience, be assured it was, as nearly every lead single, the most “accessible” (and therefore disappointing) of them all. “Till the End” can’t be dismissed outright from earlier perceptions: bands change for better or worse, and in this case against all odds, it was better. Follow these dudes, they put on a dope live show as well!

-Michael Royappa


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