Mick Mercer 'Phobos' review

 

FEAR INCORPORATED

PHOBOS

Manic Depression Records

 

Obviously they gave themselves something ridiculously difficult to follow having released such a majestically imaginative debut as “Sawney’s Cave” but here they bring us a set of song dealing with phobias, so there’s still a central current trickling through the sewer of fear.

‘Dying To Get Out’ deals with the fear of being buried alive, which you probably know better as Taphephobia, and it’s an engagingly seeping morass, the vocals somewhat buried themselves, as the bass boldly leads the song upwards towards the light. I’m not sure it makes for a real phobia as it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t dislike the idea of being in this position. Workmanlike drums suggest a shape, guitar veers away and back behind the tense vocals. Post-punk to the core.  ‘Submerged’ is airier in atmosphere with a sternly wielded spoken word central presence. Fear of water, aquaphobia if you will, dictates that high swirls of electronic sound remain above the vocals as the sparse sounds create an unnerving atmosphere. 

‘Wrong Turn’ is cutely itchy with a fluid burst here, a dizzy constriction here, and we’re onto a fear of getting lost (yes, mazephobia) which may no longer apply in this satnav era. Drums stoke slowly, guitar splinters easily as bruised vocals vibrate as a downbeat rock struggle develops. ‘Dead Of Night’ does that Sex Gang/Bauhaus fusion thing, with a looser feel, while the vocals extended into a subtly angled howl. It’s the fear of dark which has him quivering here. Interestingly, one fear of Darkness is Scotophobia! A mellow menace accompanies the vocals as the sound seethes in the background, given heart by rumbling drums. ‘Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend’ is oddly pretty while depicting the fear of fear itself (phobophobia) because as it grumbles along in a depressed crawl the tinkled keys ripple and I start to image some desolate café in Paris, while a migraine develops. It ends with a storybook mentality, a knocking at the door…

Delicious guitar worms through ‘Clown’ (fear of those miserable entities being Coulrophobia) as the song bucks and kicks like colourful goth, keenly ambitious vocals hurdling a ramshackle array of sly musical ideas which converge crunchily. Great fun. ‘Suffocation’ may be about boring old claustrophobia but it’s wickedly wayward, loping and sliding into melodrama, curious vocal shudders matching the ruptured rhythm. ‘Spooked’ has a scuzzier bed of guitar nettles in which resolute vocals wrestle while contemplating a fear of ghosts. Surely phasmophobia is a double-edged phobia as you’d have little reason to expect them until after nightfall, so just stay awake. Constantly. (Dr. Mick!) This has a doomier flow, the vocals agonised as the rhythm shines in its maudlin control.

‘Solitary Confinement’ is for people who want more than one phobia as fear of solitary confinement (Isolophobia) is so damn close to claustrophobia, meaning some people just can’t enough. It’s a post-ambient slurry of sound, vocals dramatically placed in the oddly sizzling mix until bells come to the rescue. Then they leave with ‘Hocus Pocus’ dedicated to Wiccaphobia, the fear of witches and the unctuous undulations are striking, opting for some aromatic goth clattering and some scalded Macbeth.

It’s a very fine, murky record. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the same impact as the debut because that was fleshing out something we knew little of whereas this concerns things we think we know, but the more you listen the more the tightly dark entities open up and the vignettes settle into their own space and place. It also made me realise I don’t think I have an actual phobia, so I feel cheated. (Assuming fear of Midsomer Murders ending doesn’t count?) Done be scared now, follow these links.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/FEAR-INCORPORATED/158823505970

 

http://fearincorporated1.fourfour.com

 

http://www.reverbnation.com/FearIncorporated

 

http://www.manicdepressionrecords.com

 

http://www.plasticfrogrecords.com