LA-based metalcore trope Phinehas has come up at the perfect time. Due to extremely unfortunate circumstances, the premiere melodeath-inspired metalcore kings (As I Lay Dying) are no more, so someone has to take their place. For those who crave heavy and melodic metalcore that feels modern yet not lifeless (i.e., most “Risecore”), then Phinehas seems like the ideal suitor. The band writes metalcore that is 50% riffs, 25% breakdowns, filled in with some bits of technicality and melody. It’s not a new formula (far from it, really), but it’s quite effective on record. Till The End, the band’s first record with Artery, picks right back up from where 2013’s The Last Word Is Yours To Speak, although most of the southern metal traces have been left on the cutting room floor (save for the highly enjoyable “Coup de Grace”). In their place is a sense of ethereal melody that sweeps the band up to some pretty epic and chill-inducing highs, especially in the more boundary-pushing second half of the album.
When I say something like Phinehas doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it feels like an insult, but that’s not entirely true here. The band sounds like the spawn of As I Lay Dying and Oh, Sleeper, where even the heaviest aspects aren’t too far from a catchy riff or nimble guitar lick. This type of metalcore is (somewhat) making a comeback in recent years, as everything in the history of everything is cyclical, but that doesn’t mean it’s not welcome. Phinehas remembers the hallmarks of this style of metalcore well and generally adheres to and occasionally elevates the standard tropes. Breakdowns are there, but they aren’t arbitrary or capricious enough to be a nuisance. Hell, you might even say they aid some of the song’s along, which is a rare feat in 2015.
Overall, the result is quite enjoyable during its run-time. “Tetelestai” is one of the better metalcore songs you’ll hear this year, and “Dead Choir” is gloriously retro. Of course, some songs blend together, and you won’t need to respin the album a million times to get what they’re doing, but Phinehas has written arguably the most competent metalcore record of 2015. They don’t elevate the game as much as they clearly have the talent to do, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.