Osmose Productions continues to release albums of bands all over from all over the world. Phazm hails from France, but they knew very well that it takes a good producer to fully achieve their goals. Thus, they moved to Denmark to hook up with noted producer Jacob Hansen and cut their debut release Hate At First Seed in his studio. The result is satisfying sound-wise: each instrument is clear (even by muddy black metal standards), the vocals are powerful, and the mix is dynamic.
Musically, on the other hand, Phazm is perhaps a bit all over the map. It sure is a good thing that they don't want to jump on the bandwagon and become a clone of any band. Rather, they try to write songs that are a hybrid of various genres, mostly being old school black metal, some doom, a lot of stoner rock, and death metal. Tied with a concept, the story seems to take place in the woods, as you'll hear a girl running helplessly in the woods (perhaps being followed by someone), someone cutting down trees, or just incoherent voices or sound effects. The artwork and the cartoon-like pictures also seem to portray the storyline, which is a bit difficult to follow though. The vocals are brutal and range from standard death metal growls to black shrieks, and occasional clean voices that are as clean as Lemmy's. "In Chaos" is appropriately titled: it's chaotic and a very "out there" piece. Vocals are harsh, the guitar riffs are blackened thrash metal yet at the same time there is a weird exotic vibe to this track. Before you can form a final opinion, "What A Wonderful Death" starts and continues to baffle you. Gone are the extreme metal roots. This piece is stoner rock in its purest form. There is even a bluesy guitar solo that evokes Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Up next is "Resinous Balm" with its gloomy acoustic guitars, super-heavy bass, and tortured clean vocals (or moreso Lemmy trying to emulate Chris Barnes and failing miserably). This is as close as it gets to doom-death, but the band does a better job of exploring this difficult genre on the album's highlight "Devoured Tenderness". Various background effects hint at being in the middle of a dark forest, but the Nile-esque guitar melodies that develop into symphonic passages, with tons of layering and solid production, bring to mind another underground band: The Firstborn from Portugal. They released a full album with similar content last year, only more focused and progressive. Phazm, on the other hand, seems more interested in playing a different brand of metal on every song.
"Dogs" is like Motorhead on drugs, lots of rock'n'roll solos, happy clean and gruff vocals, extended drumming; while "Forest Recipe" is arguably Phazm's tribute to old school black metal bands like Bathory and Venom. The singer shrieks and screams all through the song's duration while speed-of-light drums follow him amidst fierce tremelo picking guitars. Chaotic? Sure. But how it fits with the flow of the album I just don't know. I'd much prefer if Phazm decided where they want to go with their music and concentrate a bit harder on their songwriting.