There are no credits included with Phantom Glue’s self-titled Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records debut. Just lyrics and artwork. Usually when a band does this kind of thing – the most prevalent example I can think of when it comes to willfully withholding information is Black Cobra, but lots of acts do it – you’re not missing much. Recorded by their friend in a basement, blah blah, thanks to the bands we play with, blah blah. In the case of Phantom Glue’s Phantom Glue, however, the Boston, Massachusetts, outfit recorded with Converge’s Kurt Ballou at Godcity Recording Studio in Salem, had the record mastered by Nick Zampiello, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Oates handled the disturbing album art himself. One would think they’d want this information out there. Why attach names of the caliber of Ballou and Zampiello to a project and then not tell anyone about it?
The chief audio comparison point for Phantom Glue is going to be High on Fire all the way. Oates and bassist N. Wolf (who also contributes vocals) are rougher in their delivery than latter-day Matt Pike, and the music sometimes launches into Sunlight Studios-style death metal guitar theatrics (as on “Brainbow”) with Oates and fellow guitarist M. Gowell duking out harmonics in the grand Entombed tradition. They also mark Electric Wizard as a comparison point, I think for the slower moments on the record, like the first half of closer “Scabman,” the title track, or perhaps most appropriately, “Blacktar,” which is legitimately centered around a riff that’s pure stoner doom despite the bombastic chaos happening around it.
Before I knew Ballou recorded Phantom Glue , I was also ready to attribute the band’s sometime-angularity to a Converge influence, so take that for what it’s worth. In their moments of thickened thrash, you can hear it if you want to, drummer T. Doom Owl (guess that’s not a real name) having no problem keeping up with quick tempo changes or the increasingly acrobatic guitar work as opener “Ross the Boss” flows right into the second cut, “Pilgrim.” But still, the prevailing likeness is to High on Fire, even if the atmosphere Phantom Glue affect – aided in no small part by the album art – is darker and decidedly less concerned lyrically with monsters and wildebeests, “Gog and Magog” and “Black Tar” being notable exceptions but still not laying it on as thick as, say, their Massachusetts countrymen in Black Pyramid. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say they don’t keep their subject matter restricted to just that, but there’s definitely some of it at play in these tracks.
At a brief 27 minutes, one could just as easily call Phantom Glue an EP as an LP, though I prefer the latter, citing the famous example of Slayer’s classic Reign in Blood, which at only 28 minutes, is considered one of the finest metal full-lengths of all time. In the end, it’s about how the release comes off to the listener, and there’s no doubt Phantom Glue reads like an entire album. The band changes their approach enough throughout these seven tracks to never be completely redundant, and that should suit them well as they look to make a name in a crowded new school scene. I imagine this material to be totally crushing and possessive of even more fuck-all live, but as an introduction to the band, Phantom Glue’s Phantom Glue conveys that crushingness well. There is little more I would ask of it than that, except maybe some liner notes next time.Allston, Massachusetts, Phantom Glue, Teenage Disco Bloodbath