Phicus “Solid”

Opening Solid with “HgO” is an optical illusion. Growls from Àlex Reviriego’s double-bass seep through your skin as if you’re being fully submerged into a dark, murky yawn. The illusion blasts apart once “HgS” kicks in and Ferran Fages’ feedback-laced guitar howl and blistering drums from Vasco Trilla unload. Solid is one hell of a ride from the get go as it weaves in-and-out of decaying concrete and overgrown flora.

I can never get a firm grasp of where this album will turn next. One of the best things about Phicus is how they seem to thwart any attempt to get a foothold. Grinding through angular sonic screams like closer “Ag” – perfectly placed at the end of the album by the way – wears you down into a blistered stump. Fages sounds like he’s sucking every last ounce of life out of his guitar while Trilla attempts to knock him down. Violent and catharsis make excellent stablemates here as it all falls apart.

While the trio never loses sight of the bottom, their ability to find such a diverse sonic palette and depth of sound with minimal tools is the real story here. Eight-minute beast “Zn” explodes with frenetic energy and barrels ahead like a diamond drill bit eviscerating glass, but once they hit a wall, about midway through, the magic expands into unexpected, bleakly meditative zones. It’s an absolute trip and Solid wants to be your snarling guide.