Fire From the Evening Sun Review

artist: Philm date: 09/22/2014 category: compact discs
Philm: Fire From the Evening Sun
Released: September 16, 2014
Genre: Progressive Metal, Psychedelic Metal
Label: UDR
Number Of Tracks: 12
After a polarizing debut album, Philm's second studio album, "Fire From the Evening Sun," shows that Dave Lombardo's newest side project is only getting better.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 8
 Overall Impression: 8
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overall: 8.3
Fire From the Evening Sun Featured review by: UG Team, on september 22, 2014
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Of Latin descent, Dave Lombardo's ancient ancestor could very well have been the Roman God of drumming (you know, the god that would go to town on his gigantic drumset during every thunderstorm). Even if that's not the case, Lombardo still earned himself the title of "godfather of double bass" when he came to prominence as the original, superlative drummer for the iconic thrash metal band Slayer. Even though he's had his fair share of troubles with the band (he was recently fired prior to a Slayer tour due to a squabble about how much money he would be getting, making it the third time he's split from the band), he'll always be an iconic element for Slayer, and considerably more likable than Lars Ulrich.

Along with the spotty decades in Slayer, Lombardo has also tended to reputable side projects. During the early 90s after his second departure from Slayer, he created the groove metal band, Grip Inc., with Waldemar Sorychta of Voodoocult, and also created the experimental metal supergroup, Fantomas, with Mike Patton of Faith No More, Buzz Osborne of Melvins and Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle. While both of those projects have been derelict for the past few years, Lombardo would create another side project in 2010 with former Civil Defiance frontman Gerry Nestler and current War bassist Pancho Tomaselli. As every new project of Lombardo's showed a different side to his music interests rather than being a simple Slayer derivative, Philm's first impression with their debut album, "Harmonic," showed Lombardo delving into jazz, blues and psychedelia, while also keeping his thrash side fueling a sizable portion of the album.

Now, with the release of their follow-up album, "Fire From the Evening Sun," Philm's still showing top-notch instrumental work and keeping things retro, but have brought forth a substantially different batch of songs this time around. There's a Soundgarden essence in the grunge-adorned tracks "Train" and "Fanboy," surf rock-influenced riffs in "We Sail at Dawn" and "Luxhaven," a Black Sabbath sludginess in the chorus of "Lion's Pit," and the old-school stomp of "Fire From the Evening Sun" bursts into an unrelenting crossover thrash section halfway through. In fact, there's more hardcore punk influence felt on the album, most notably in "Lady of the Lake," the narrative-heavy "Omniscience," and the furious strumming of "Blue Dragon" - this actually helps Nestler's voice find a comfortable home, since he bears that abrasive pseudo-singing style akin to Keith Morris or Mike Nuir, that was duly criticized for being a weak point of "Harmonic." However, Nestler's voice also shows some improvement, and adapts surprisingly well in the blues rocker, "Silver Queen," and the slow jazz closer, "Corner Girl," which has Philm pull another trick from their sleeves by switching into a Latin jazz section with a trumpet solo. These low gear moments on "Fire From the Evening Sun" are more scarce in comparison to the numerous slow-burning bouts of ambience found in "Harmonic," but seeing as that element got chilly reception, Philm's choice to include none of that on this album were probably for the best. And with all the different directions taken on the album, what seems to hold it all together is Lombardo's "force of nature" status on the drums, fitting an awe-inspiring drumroll wherever he can with success. // 9

Lyrics: As if the retro-evoking sound aspect wasn't enough, the lyrics further bank on the retro vibe of "Fire From the Evening Sun," and successfully make it stronger. While not being dense or tough to decipher, Philm most enigmatic element to their lyrics is their primary interest in fantasy-driven subject matter - from telling the Arthurian medieval legend of "Lady of the Lake," to the confronting and unleashing of a dragon in "Blue Dragon," to the Iron Maiden-esque vividness in the warzone description of "Omniscience." Nearly all narratives in the lyrics are directed at a particular woman, whether titular or unnamed, and often show a reverence and worship of women, being due to the women depicted as superhuman, as heard in "Silver Queen," "Luxhaven" and "Turn in the Sky." However, Philm also make sure to counterweight the positivity with some darker matter, so that the album doesn't fall into a "unicorns and rainbows" problem: "Lion's Pit" is a classic trope of the narrator's feelings being tortured by a significant other, and "Corner Girl" has the lyrics adapting to follow suit with the downbeat jazz style, rhetorically asking an unidentified girl about her lost hopes and dreams. // 8

Overall Impression: Many Lombardo fans may have been a bit disingenuous when it came to "Harmonic," whether because they didn't want to badmouth a musical legend or because they wanted to believe anything and everything Lombardo recorded was gold - even if it was just really hard to see - but "Fire From the Evening Sun" learns from the mistakes of "Harmonic" and builds off of them impressively. With the core appeal of superb instrumental talent, they weed out the compositional elements that ultimately didn't fly well in "Harmonic," and give the album several new characteristics to make it stand out and completely avoid the sophomore slump. As much as everyone would want Lombardo to rejoin Slayer once again to further continue the band's legacy, if Lombardo instead decides to make Philm his main focus for years to come, "Fire From the Evening Sun" is proof why that choice would be satisfying in its own right. // 8

- Sam Mendez (c) 2014

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