Band Line Up:
Phlegeton – All instruments, lyrics and voices
1. Malign Emanatio
2. Sepulchral Vault
3. Released From Life
5. Incorporeal Gate
Taking his pseudonym from one of the five rivers in the infernal regions of the underworld, Phlegeton is the sole member of Lifelost and evidently a man driven by a significant creative force.
Primarily known as the frontman for Spanish, Sci-Fi metallers, Wormed – The man who was born J.L. Rey actually has a rich history of involvement in various musical projects. He has previously played drums for Infernal, The YTriple Corporation, Banished from Inferno and Nüll.
In addition to Wormed he has fronted, Human Mincer and doubled up on drums AND vocals for Unsane Crisis, Wrong and Godüs.
If all of that wasn’t enough to evidence Phlegeton’s artistic drive, he has also undertaken some prolific design work on dozens of death metal album covers via his very own, Phlegeton Art Studio.
With all of this going on, it seems inconceivable that Phlegeton would find the time to create another project, but indeed he has – and it’s a good thing too, because Dialogues From Beyond is a very compelling listen.
Essentially a solo album – Phlegeton is credited as playing all instruments, writing all the lyrics and providing all of the voices. He has described his intention on this piece of work to “delve into the psyche of the listener and tear up preconceived notions about the style.” Going on to say that he considers Dialogues From Beyond as “dark, harrowing and suspenseful… A journey through your subconscious thoughts when you are at your most vulnerable.”
To Phlegeton’s credit, many of these ideas are clearly evidenced on the opening track, Malign Emanatio. This song sets the albums shadowy tone with a driving blast of black metal that effectively conveys the abstract, otherworldliness described by the musician as an “intense excursion to a different murky dimension where there is more happening than meets the eye.”
By layering the instruments and burying his vocals in amongst the maelstrom – shifting his voice from a dark incantation to a tortured cry – Phlegeton creates a bleak atmosphere. He uses a filthy guitar tone on a staccato riff to punctuate the drifting darkness and maintain the songs momentum.
The album’s second song, Sepulchral Vault, completes the immersion into what feels like a bleak, aural painting of darkness and turmoil.
It almost seems impossible to imagine this album being created as it was, in Spain; a country known for its colourful, sunny climate – But in a similar way to another recently recommended, Spanish black metal band – Empty – Lifelost have the ability to tap into something wretched and desolate, creating tangible environments within the music. The songs on Dialogues From Beyond feed the imagination as much as they feed the ears.
A brief cinematic interlude precedes the central song on the record – Released From Life, which is a majestic, Nordic sounding barrage. In contrast to the subconscious, otherworldly nature of the first two tracks, this sounds more “real world” to me. It remains visceral and evocative and reminiscent of a heavy land battle – sounding like the clatter and clash of an ancient war.
The song is driven along on a foundation of double bass drums while Phlegeton‘s vocals seem to be pushed to the forefront for clarity. This offers a dramatic disparity to the ghostly voice that has been used up until this point, but it’s one that sinks back into the black fog for the album’s penultimate song, Metanoia.
As impressive as it is, the music on Dialogues From Beyond might not be to everyone’s taste. Even those who enjoy the icy, mournful tone of black metal may find the dream-like presentation here to be too amorphous and too free. These aren’t traditional structures. Lifelost are presenting us with something less shaped; this is a set of songs that advance and undulate, enveloping the listener with a haunting, guttural growl.
That is not to say there aren’t crushing moments. The final track, Incorporeal Gate is a triumphant gallop, full of momentum and hammering drums, eventually stripping the cacophony back to a single buzzing riff that ensures everything sounds brutal and intense when the music crashes back in and takes us towards a beautifully uplifting finale.
Dialogues From Beyond is a brief listen but ultimately a breathtaking piece of work from a single musician. The instruments are all played with equal and impressive skill and the production perfectly captures the dank and hallucinatory themes of each composition.
To some, I would say proceed with caution, especially if you are looking for screech-a-long choruses and spot-lit guitar solos – but if you want to lose yourself inside an existential purgatory, then this may well be the record of the year.
Review by Beandog