CD, Malignant Records, 2008
At all times in history, and with no signs of ending in the foreseeable future, acts of genocide have been committed on varying scales by different ethnic groups in some sort of power upon those with less. As one of the greatest of the many tragedies which may befall humanity this is certainly a rich mine of artistic inspiration, and so it is this subject on which the Slovakian duo Phragments have chosen to base their third album. As a well-refined performance of Phragments’ trademark musical styles, based for the most part in sombre dark ambient building to more bombastic martial classical passages with forceful industrial touches, “Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood” is arguably one of the best ways to capture an effective sense of the immense tragedy that is genocide.
The title track sets the scene perfectly with a deep minimal synth line overlaid with a mournful cello and slow, crashing percussion, finally erupting into an aggressive tribal drumming workout. “Over Deadlands” then provides the equivalent of a hit single, with thoughtful lyrics delivered in a powerful manner by both Matej and Sonic(k), over more infectious percussion, together with a sinister violin refrain adding some sense of madness. The following piece, “As Hope Turns To Ashes”, certainly gives the feeling of hopelessness, with another well placed cello lead over a sparse backing, although the words provided in the CD inlay seem to be absent.
“The Fogs Have Risen” sounds like some kind of impending doom, the forces of terror gathering their troops, ready to commence some genocidal attack on helpless victims, then “Chant Of The Forsaken” evokes the aftermath, perhaps the desolation of a ruined village where survivors weep for lost loved ones. The Middle Eastern feeling as the rhythmic section gets moving towards the end seems especially appropriate given recent events. The hardest track on the album, “The Kin Of Cain”, then comes pounding forth, with Matej’s deepest vocals pouring scorn on those killing for their god, “spilling blood for the thousandth time”. “The Return” seems to be a curious title for a closing track, but perhaps alludes to the sad fact that as one genocide ends so it is never very long before another commences elsewhere, and an uneasy sense of anticipation seems to permeate this tune. Or rather, this may suggest the return of the prolific duo, and that we may not have to wait very long until another fine album comes our way.
— Nathan Clemence