One of the things that brings me great joy from doing this whole blogging thing is when you write something about a band you particularly enjoy and you develop a relationship with the band simply because you thought the band was one that needed to be heard and that all you wanted to do was raise the profile of said band. And that’s precisely what happened as the result of one of my first writings for this here Toilet when I wrote about French chaotic hardcore maniacs Anorak. Sadly, they disbanded in 2015 but guitarist Tim Dreloumf and I kept in touch. He was kind enough to alert me to his latest endeavor, Sycomore and I’m glad he did because it’s something I think a great many of you will enjoy; especially if you are in the mood for some sludge along the lines of early Mastodon, Kylesa and Turbid North. Take a walk with me and allow me to point your attention to Sycomore’s debut album, Phantom Wax.
If you made it past the introduction of this post and my words were enough to make you want to journey further then I assure you, you will not be disappointed. Let me ask you all one very simple rhetorical question: Do you like riffs? If by some absurdly strange occurrence that zapped your brain cells of all functionality and you answered no to that question then by all means take a hike and get back to me when the dust settles. For the rest of you, Sycamore brings the riffs in the form of up tempo sludge that will most certainly have the attention of your earholes. Just like Arby’s proclaims to have the meats, Sycamore has the riffs. And if the riffs are to be believed, the drums and bass are doing what exactly what the riffs tell them to.
Sycomore’s rapid fire brand of sludge will keep you locked in at every turn. Remember those riffs I was telling you about? They make themselves known right off the jump with opener “Miner Forty-Niner” which greets you with some thick hypnotic riffing that is both crushing and engaging. Sycamore is not content to rest on their laurels by extending things any longer than they need to be and the opener is evidence of that fact. The flow and continuity of the songwriting allow them to get their message across in the span of three to four minutes on average. They can build rapport with the best of them and they don’t need to take an extended period of time to do it. Ranging from shouting to howling from the mountain tops singing, the vocal performances also work nicely into the compositions and “Miner Forty-Niner” gives you an indication of what you can expect as you make your way through the album. There’s no shortage of the head nod inducing sludgy riffs throughout Phantom Wax‘s runtime. Most songs open with one that will lure you in right away. Songs like “Hot Dog Water”, “Headless Horseman” and the thrashy “Jaguaro” all kick things off with warm and fuzzy greetings that invite you to sit back and enjoy the rest of the track.
What’s unique about Sycomore that separates them from their peers is that they deploy blast beats over sludgy riffing in an effective manner that fits nicely into the scheme of things. Take for example the opening section of “Manticore”. The clean almost bluesy guitar lick tricks you into believing that you’ll be heading into slow and steady territory on your initial listen, but what you get are a barrage of blast beats instead that will make you take a step back and appreciate how a clever a move it is. The blast beat over sludgy riffing also works great on the second track “Bluestone’s Phantom” as the grind bookends the grove-laden riff that precedes it during the midsection of the song. Little nuances related to the blast beat manifest themselves throughout the album and they never feel forced or out of place. Couple that with massive sludgy riff assault that Sycamore routinely hurls at you and you have yourself an album that provides instant gratification and a desire to give Phantom Wax repeated spins.
4 0ut of 5 Flaming Toilets Ov Hell
Phantom Wax is available now through Sycomore’s band camp page (name your price for digital download). If you like what you are hearing, give Sycomore a like on Facebook and tell them the Toilet Ov Hell sent ya.