Kabbalistic or occultist, depending on any specific orientation, the concept of binah holistically represents an endlessly capable creator driven by (and in service to) the limitless energy of the universe. The word suggests a vitally feminine engine of knowledge and font of creation; Binah represents an ‘understanding’ which I would personally interpret similar to Buddhism’s prajñā, a discerning wisdom necessary to reach the spiritual devotion either religion offers. Parsing through lyrics and imagery in figuring any particular spiritual connotations of this largely studio-exclusive British death metal project would be time wasted as their themes appear as brutal and darkly psychedelic void poetry rather than Kabbalah spirituals. Binah appeared as an old school retrospective death metal side-project with a vision just as otherworldly as their ‘caverncore’ surroundings back in 2011 but their sound aimed to refurbish classic Finnish and Swedish death metal agency on ‘Hallucinating in Ressurecture’ in 2012. By 2014 the project seemed to understand their divergent atmospheric path was unique among peers as ‘A Triad of Plagues’ escaped further from the clutches of the Boss HM-2 distortion pedal’s buzz. As we near the end of 2018 Binah appear pulling from beyond with a highly atmospheric album that strikes a balance of riff-driven Scandinavian death metal and their own increasingly otherworldly atmospheric death metal.
If there is any sort of sincere worship infused into ‘Phobiate’ it is in service to old school death metal as Binah channel their usual ‘Dark Recollections’ heft ah via Entrails / Corrosive Carcass-esque distortion-powered wranglings. Projects that exist in the studio live and die by their recordings and Binah‘s second full-length appears pristine in execution but just raw enough to stink of the post-‘Clandestine’ spectrum of old school Scandinavian chainsaw horrors while still cognizant of the cutting edge atmospheric and adventurous death metal leading the 2010’s landscape. Ambitions might not initially appear to venture as far from the past as they actually do, and this is largely due to the unavoidable associations of the familiar rhythm guitar tone; Nevertheless Binah have never been so astral in their details and this is only hinted at on the twelve minute opener “The Silent Static”, which serves to showcase how ‘Phobiate’ balances old school death’s terror with nigh progressive atmospherics.
None of this high capability for atmospheric interest should surprise as the folks behind Binah are unarguably best known for for their involvement (past and present) in fine, reputable UK death/doom (Pantheist, Indesinence), black metal (Blutvial), and post-metal (Code); All projects seemingly balanced by Binah‘s urgent, ripping presence. Their sound has changed in some small ways that all feel natural. Most notably the very mild Incantation influence felt on their debut now translates into what I’d consider a hint of early Paradise Lost; This is only really evident on slower sections where the guitar work is comparable to early Convulse and God Macabre, in faster points of interest Binah take more of their own sort of liberties on an album that seems to thrive most during peaks of experimentation.
“Transmissions From Beneath” takes the first step outside of the box beyond the opener with its liquid Finndeath leads and represents a brilliant anomaly amongst the more brutal-minded tracks that surround it. “Exit Daze” picks that tip back up and briefly recalls the pre-‘Wildhoney’ innovations of Tiamat a la ‘Clouds’/’The Astral Sleep’. With the impressive closer “Bleaching” tying those elements together with an Autopsy-esque atmospheric crawl, I began to feel like the album largely succeeds based on four key tracks mentioned so far; The rest of the songs are no less interesting or vitally energetic but any chance to bewilder the listener with touches of atmospherically thick death/doom-lite nods lands so successfully some of the shorter tracks are far outshined.
The flow of the tracklist isn’t perfect but the equal balancing of ripping old school chugging and ‘on the edge of doom’ death metal tracks makes for equally distributed points of interest within a full listen. “Mind Tap” gives the most brief best-of-both-worlds with buzzsawing riffs that begin to shudder beneath a very successful dip into an atmospheric lead (a la Nirvana 2002) around halfway through, then again roughly 40 seconds before it ends; The most successful track for my tastes comes next with “Dream Paralysis” (when paired with “Mind Tap”) as it provides the vital energy needed to recover from the enormity of the opener and lets the listener know that Binah haven’t gone entirely into the realm of Lovecraftian atmospherics. The only change I would have made to the arrangement is pushing “Waves of Defacement” down after “Exit Daze” to provide momentum where it was needed, as it feels redundant after “Dream Paralysis”.
The full experience comes highly recommended although some preview might be vital for seeing the bigger picture of the 50 minutes on offer. You won’t necessarily grasp the progression or flow of the album, but I’d suggest starting with “Transmissions From Beneath” and “Dream Paralysis” to see Binah at thier succinct best on this second full-length. I found the “The Silent Static” both cumulative and oppressive as an introduction, so don’t necessarily let that be your entire first impression of this otherwise solid death metal album.
Here flows our translucent blood. 4.0/5.0
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