Release Date: May 15, 2012
Any preconceptions one might have entering into the sonic fray that is Philm‘s Harmonic, will likely be crushed. The band’s conflux of unique talents generate a vibe one can barely put into words. Fronted by guitarist and vocalist Gerry Nestler of Civil Defiance one might expect Philm to be a progressive and abstract metal outfit. Bassist Francisco “Pancho” Tomaselli of War might lead you to believe the band would generate Latin influences and soulful rhythms. Finally, backstopping it all is Slayer‘s thunderous skin crusher, Dave Lombardo, offering the idea that extreme metal and thrash could be involved.
Actually, all these elements in some form or another meld their way into Philm‘s signature, yet those are mere ingredients, or brush strokes if you will, for Harmonic offers so much more, and yet, so much less. Elements of blues, punk, shoegaze, trance, and jazz, are as essential to the vision and ambient nature of Harmonic’s sound as much as the rock roots from which Philm grows.
The majority of Harmonic has a very late 60s, early 70s, organic psychedelic overtone to it. In fact, one might equate this album to an auditory tab of acid.
The trip begins with “Vitriolize”, a melodic mélange of so many elements the brain can barely keep up. There exists a classic fuzziness reminiscent of bands such as Blue Cheer, Iggy and The Stooges, and MC5 at work here. Some punk mixed with free-spirited chaos, all born of an uncluttered freedom to create.
Pancho’s bass opens up “Area” with Lombardo joining in to create a jazzy groove. This is a soaring piece that really showcases, Tomaselli’s fret skills. “Way Down” is an atmospheric gem that recalls a collision of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, while the title track is broody and off-balance. The mood is dark and discordant in many places throughout the record, but is near palpable on “Harmonic”. Nestler makes his guitar bleed for you.
“Exuberance” is a musician’s antidote for the mundane– a near eight minute jam that travels across the globe, creating a worldly soundscape, that cries to be heard.
The album’s shortest track, the punk-funk grind of “Sex Amp”, rockets along on Nestler’s rolling guitar riff, and rage-crusted vocals.
“Dome” brings the listener a face full of hardcore, with its barely contained animus. “Killion” jumps into a jazz-fusion despondency., and “Mild” is anything but with its punk angst and speak-song vocal attack.
“Meditation” closes the album out in shoegaze fashion with a wall of distortion and maniacal expulsion.
Harmonic is an ambitious yet unpretentious album which finds cohesion through chaos and addition through abstraction. Tomaselli, Lombardo, and Nestler have created something raw in its indigenous form, yet refined by the talents which created it. Philm have divined something new and essential by sifting through the past and unearthing fertile new ground from which to grow, while eschewing the detritus of trendy expectations. Harmonic is, simply put, an eclectic and unexpected joy for the ears.