Eave – Phantoms Made Permanent Review

Phantoms Made Permanent is the sophomore release from Maine’s Eave. It follows their 2016 debut, Purge, and 2018’s EP, Banners to the Moonswept, which I — inadvertently — smuggled into a 2019 EP post.1 Since Banners, Eave’s original three-piece line-up has acquired a fourth member, with the addition of guitarist Gabe Shara, and they have moved across to Bindrune Recordings. When I wrote up the excellent Banners, I said that if that EP was a foreshadowing of what we could expect from the next Eave full-length, that was pretty exciting. Have they delivered on that promise with Phantoms Made Permanent?

Eave’s melodic post-black metal drips atmosphere, conjuring bleak soundscapes that would be completely at home in the dark woods of the album’s cover. The dissonant tremolos rise and fall, giving way at times to gentler post-metal melodies, while the distant rasps and tormented howls of vocalist (and bassist) Brian Tenison serve as almost an additional instrument. With a mood that tracks somewhere between the grandeur of Falls of Rauros and beautiful darkness of labelmate Eneferens, there is no cheer and no light to be found in Eave’s domain. That said, there are moments of respite in the bleakness, like the acoustic opening to “Gait of the Ghost” and sections of “Mana Descending,” but these are brief and do nothing to lift the despair.

The further Phantoms progresses, the more prominent the post-metal elements become. Closing pair “Ablaze and Unyielding” and “Visage” both draw heavily on post influences, though both also feature some of the heaviest sections of the record, with the former seeing Tenison introduce something resembling a doom roar into his vocals. Discordant and at times jarring in its sudden tempo shifts, the gorgeous “Visage” is the pick of the album, although the brooding melancholia of the title track and moments of introspective calm in “Mana Descending” are also highlights. Despite weaving into Phantoms a shifting palette of atmospheric, blackgaze, DSBM and post-metal, Eave maintain their depressive mood, which permeates the record as whole.

With guitar work contributed by three of the four members – including drummer Caleb Porter – and rich bass rumble courtesy of Tenison, Eave generate a full and enveloping sound, with keening, mournful tone to the melodic riffs. Porter’s work on the kit largely eschews the blast beats, favoring a sound closer to that on Ashbringer’s outstanding Absolution. What holds Phantoms back from hitting quite the same levels as Absolution is, ironically, that all-permeating mood I mentioned. Eave’s sophomore album is so drenched in despair that it can feel a bit one-note and lacking in variety, something driven largely by Tenison’s howled vocals. I don’t want this to be read as criticizing Tenison’s vocals as they are – it is simply that a little more variation could have elevated Phantoms.

Phantoms a very good record and certainly doesn’t waste the promise Eave showed on Banners to the Moonswept. Combining harrowing harmonics with post-black metal to strong – and sometimes stunning (“Visage”) – effect, Eave have delivered an accomplished and atmospheric record. That I would have liked to see a little more range in the vocals doesn’t detract from that and I am sure Phantoms Made Permanent is an album that I will return to often.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: PCM
Label: Bindrune Recordings
Websites: eave.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/eavemusic
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. An act I shall now attempt to retrospectively justify by pointing out that it dropped on 29 December 2018, well after the date on which any self-respecting metal fan could realistically be expected to treat it as a 2018 release.
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