It’s always a little alarming when a band gives their style its own unique classification. After all, in a scene where genres and sub-genres are becoming more and more difficult to define, many fans and journalists only really use them as a means of describing a band’s sound to a potential new listener. So, what exactly does “astrogrind” sound like? Well if the third album from Greek outfit Dephosphorus is anything to go by, it’s a noisy and suitably eclectic style of music infused with smatterings of punk, various subgenres of extreme metal and, you guessed it, grindcore.
If that’s the “grind”, then the “astro” is found within the album’s themes – “cosmology, astronomy, and science fiction literature, as well as the associated socio-political and existential repercussions,” says the press release. The band’s coarse music comes from the sort of subgenre you’d sooner associate with an exceptionally dreary sewer than the grandiosity of the cosmos, but there is an unmistakable air of otherworldly allure to the album. Fans of non-stop intensity have nothing to fear, however. Impossible Orbits’ brutal style doesn’t take ethereal pitstops to justify its sci-fi themes, nor does it try to haphazardly throw psychedelia into the mix. Instead, it wastes no time in doing the opposite. From the get-go, it brandishes a proclivity for straightforward, thrashy crust punk, choosing to set a benchmark before going in search of more complex and inventive textures.
Dephosphorus steadily build a unique identity over Impossible Orbits’ nine tracks. Barely audible but effective ambient noises begin to creep into the final moments of opener ‘Above The Threshold’, setting a precedent for the madness to follow. From here, the band gleefully jumps from one subgenre to another, giving the album a challenging but irresistible power that finds itself enhanced by convulsive grooves and sudden changes of pace. ‘Rational Reappraisal’ builds with a shimmering, sludgy riff before launching into blackened extreme metal, ‘Asteroskoni’ introduces hardcore-tinged grindcore, and the title-track, the album’s shortest track at one minute and 29 seconds, blasts forward with a thrilling burst of blackened thrash.
Astronomical themes are often saved for subgenres like post-metal, perhaps due to genres like grindcore and death metal often favouring grotesque themes that centre around despair and life’s ugliness rather than the mysterious but stunning realms of sci-fi and astrology (at least in 2017), but Impossible Orbits does an excellent job of breaking the trend. Perhaps more impressive, though, is Dephosphorus’ decidedly original style of extreme metal that wields sublimely impressive musicianship. Though it may seem ambitious and grandiose to proclaim your band fits a style that doesn’t (or didn’t) actually exist, Impossible Orbits is impactful and adaptable, with the “astrogrind” tag seemingly liberating the band from the limitations of existing subgenres.
Impossible Orbits is out now on Selfmadegod Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr