Album Title: 
Immense Intense Suspense / Skycontact
Release Date: 
Monday, April 7, 2014
Review Type: 

Because Dutch band Phlebotomized were different from the average Death Metal band, and then I am talking about the very early nineties, they were both loved and hated. Their approach was pretty unique back then, so I’d like to refer to the review on the compilation album Devoted To God, Preaching Eternal Gospels, posted on July 20th 2013. Vic Records did compile some of this band’s earliest efforts that were done before releasing the official debut full length, and now Hammerheart Records are to re-release both full lengths Phlebotomized did, before splitting up in 1997.

Immense Intense Suspense was originally released via defunct Dutch Extreme Metal-label Cyber Music in 1994, and it mainly continued the eccentric style created in between 1990 and 1993. It was recorded at The Beaufort Studio with productional assistance of Han Swagerman (he worked with bands like The Gathering, Callenish Circle and even Sear Bliss before). Just like the former stuff, it combines melodic and pounding Death / Doom-Death Metal (especially the rhythm section crushes and smashes, focusing on the roots of immense, intense and suspense heaviness) with those prominent neo-symphonic and / or gloomy keyboards, those characterising grunts and those eccentric melodies. It was / is great to hear that the songs that were previously on the demo or mini aren’t just ‘copied’, but re-arranged. Some of the original synth passages have now been replaced by violins, and that element hits the bull’s eye. I can give a description of each (lengthy) track, and pronounce my admiration and appreciation for this stuff, but I think it will be clear if you understand the greatness of stuff like Devoted To God or Preaching Eternal Gospels (once again, check the review I did last year for the re-releases of this legendary (!) stuff), because Immense Intense Suspense isn’t but a truly perfection of those demonstrational recordings, with a complemented level of mystery and fantasy. 9,5/10

After a period of emptiness, Phlebotomized returned in February 1997 with Skycontact. This album was originally brought out through the very same label, but stylistically seen it did change a lot from the former effort(s). And it implements a drastic change! Completely gone are the mysterious atmospheres of old, completely gone are the fabulous excerpts of epic. Skycontact was / is a collection of lengthy tracks that do combine progression with heaviness, yet constructed from a modern point of view. The vocals are different (closer to Hardcore, with shouts and yells, as well as much more clean voices), and so are the melodies (way catchier), the keyboard lines (more spacy), the rhythms (less explicitly darkened), the atmosphere (also less explicitly darkened), and so on, and so on. Variation still is a keyword, originality too, but this stuff has not much to do with the unique Doom-Death Metal tradition of old. Rather it fuses Space-Pop and Prog-Rock (Hawkwind and Pink Floyd do penetrate these compositions a couple of times with their progressive attitude), Trip-Hop, Goth Rock, Grunge, Ambient, groovy Death / Thrash Metal and Psychedelic Doom. I was truly disappointed when I noticed Phlebotomized evolved so drastically, but still one cannot deny the unique approach these guys created. However, in comparison to the past, this stuff is / was an insult for my existence. 5,5/10