~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Some music is so different from what you're used to that maintaining your interest becomes a difficult challenge. It's easy to become discouraged and write an album off without giving it a proper chance to sink in and take hold of your subconscious. I almost let that happen with one-man-band Carrier Flux's In Waste, but I'm quite pleased that I took the time to give it a few thorough listens. As it turns out, this is one of the more artful and creative albums of heavy music I've come across in a while.
Jeff Phillips is an ambitious man. Solo projects are hard enough to complete, let alone when they feature arrangements as dense as those on In Waste. Loosely combining elements of black metal, ambient, goth, techno-industrial, and electronica, Phillips has forged a strong amalgam that bears little direct resemblance to any of its building blocks. Blazing crunchy guitars and blindingly fast drum machine patterns form a bed beneath an unusual choice of vocal styles that nonetheless creates a strange and not unwelcome mood of disquiet. Phillips sounds full of resignation and grim fatalism as he delivers his lyrics in a style not unlike that of many a teutonic gloom-metal (or techno) act. The monotone, nearly spoken-word stylings perhaps recall Depeche Mode right after they've returned home from a funeral, or a less angry, more acquiescent Rammstein.
Synth lines wind through the tremolo picked guitar fuzz with regularity, and no instrument is safe from electronic manipulation (or mauling). This gives the album a progressive tinge and a bit of a science-fictiony feel. The lead lines trade off between guitar and synthesizer, zipping and blipping along at breakneck speeds, but the music is primarily driven by the relentless drum machine ticking away alongside buzzy rhythm guitar riffs. Combined with the morose vocals (and a sporadic black metal rasp), the music creates a singular sound that gives Carrier Flux a clear and unique identity.
Anyone who enjoys experimental metal and has an open mind willing to explore a new take on the genre will find In Waste a valuable addition to their collection. If I had to compare Carrier Flux to another band (and it's in the "Metal Reviewers' By-Laws": I do!) I would say that it is in the same ballpark that ...And Oceans has been playing in, though AO is out in left field and Carrier Flux is somewhere around second base. Interpret that however you like. Do not be put off by my glaringly ineffective analogies, though... In Waste is no waste of your time if you have the patience to appreciate challenging art.
Carrier Flux is:
Black Lotus Records:
The End Records (US):