PHILM - Time Burner
The nineties were an era that allowed heavy metal music to be extraordinarily adventurous. After the thrash explosion of the preceding decade, it was now time to see what could be done with all the new possibilities. One of my favourite band back then were Civil Defiance, who took progressive metal and turned it though the meatgrinder by adding all kinds of unexpected sounds, especially floating piano parts. When the new millennium started, Civil Defiance broke apart. It was only in 2019 that I heard another sign of life when they released a new single. What I didnít know was that bandleader Gerry Nestler had been quite active all the time. One of his bands named Philm vaguely started in the late nineties, when Civil Defiance were close to an end. What made that band stand out was their drummer Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame, but after two albums in 2012 and 2014 he left and said that without him Philm was over.
It took quite a few years, but Gerry Nestler proved Dave Lombardoís ego wrong. Together with long time bass player Pancho Tomaselli, formerly of War, he recruited in Anderson Quintero a new drummer, and their third longplayer Time Burner should appeal to fans of Nestlerís broad body of work.
The new album begins with Cries Of The Century, an intricate metal song that actually reminds me quite a lot of Civil Defianceís avantgarde approach to metal. The vocals are still hoarse yet melodic, the guitar playing is all over the place, but in a good way, while the rhythm section is providing a furious backbone. Steamroller is, despite its hectic start, a hard rocker with a muscular groove. This is feeling kind of as if sludge metal had been invented in the late sixties or early seventies. Spanish Flowers is different, much quieter, coming with a psychedelic vibe and ultra-deep androgynous vocals that turn this song into an unforgettable trippy experience. 1942 is another hard rock song where apart from the catchy chorus, itís Nestlerís incredible free guitar playing that reminded me of the unleashed energy of the late sixties. Jimi Hendrix, anyone? Wade Through Water comes with piano instead of guitar, and is a short two minute interlude that proves that Philm are much more than a hard rock, prog metal or post hardcore band.
The albumís second half begins with the funky Wonka Vision, possibly not my favourite track on the album, but the parallels to Spin Doctors is quite fun though. The Seventh Sun is the last rock song on the album, but what a highlight it is. It comes with a hell of a chorus, and the vocals truly stand out this time, with Nestler sounding like a young Henry Rollins screaming his vocal cords out of his stressed throat. Evening Star takes us back to the piano, making this a short and entertaining not exactly three-minute-long jazz piece. Like Gold is another trippy excursion into psychedelia, like late-sixties Pink Floyd, before the album ends with the eleven-minute-long title track, which sounds like an improvisation on piano, bass and drums by a trio that truly feels comfortable together.
Time Burner is not an instant pleaser. You need to invest some time. Gerry Nestlerís music has never been known for being overly accessible, but like any good art, itís the redeeming value which will determine its qualities. I still love Civil Defianceís debut album The Fishers For Souls from 1996, and am happy to declare that Gerry Nestlerís hasnít lost anything of his magic. Fans of his work will be delighted.