Progress & Propulsion: Phreneticis and the New Age of Death Metal

All images courtesy of Phreneticis

All images courtesy of Phreneticis

Many an artist can be found when walking the streets of Lisbon. This time, we meet Phreneticis, a progressive death metal band co-created by the guitarists, Daniel Guerreiro, and André Carvalho.

The duo started playing together in 2015, moved by the sounds of thrash metal, but gradually, developed their hearing for something else. At the moment, what they’re playing most is death metal.

Phreneticis made their live debut at Oeste Underground Fest, with additional band members, Diogo Almeida on bass, and Marcus Reis on drums. Although they felt their nerves peaking at the beginning of the show, it wasn’t long before they felt at home, feeling the crowd had adopted the band as part of a sort of metal family.

During the pandemic, unfortunately, most of Phreneticis’ scheduled gigs were canceled, yet, “Worse than the canceled concerts was the way it creatively affected us,” Guerreiro shares with us. Phreneticis have seen themselves struggling with the compositional process, and to make matters worse, the rhythm section quit, and since that point, Guerreiro and Carvalho have been holding open auditions.

Although Guerreiro and Carvalho label their music as “progressive,” the term is nothing more than that — a label — which they felt they needed to use in order to describe themselves, as Guerreiro told us, “It’s not that we wanted to label our music, it’s that we had to, to make other people understand what kind of ‘thing’ we do when they ask us.”

But amongst all the labels Guerreiro and Carvalho could have chosen, why “progressive,” then? To this, Guerreiro quips, “The genre of progressive metal enables us to make everything we want with music,” adding, “It gives us a level of freedom we couldn’t have if we were to be confined to another genre.” Sharing with us how wide the genre and the term are, Guerreiro and Carvalho still cannot see Phreneticis as playing a specific genre per see, “Although there are always those cliché melodies, and characteristic of the genre, whose musical identity diverges from that of which makes us who were are.”

According to Carvalho, “Taking advantage of their differences to create something pleasant to one’s ears, and ultimately, an interesting mix of vibes in their music, and to create metal with a groove — that is the goal.” For listeners, that’s something to look for when listening to their new EP, Maze of Time.

Image credit: Sonia Ferreira/All images courtesy of Phreneticis

The pleasantness of playing the guitar not only comes with the sounds produced with their instruments but also from the fretwork, the way the patterns feel, and how the duo of Guerreiro and Carvalho innately understand what’s behind the music they listen to. It’s pleasantness squared.

From here, Guerreiro and Carvalho, individually, come up with ideas, and when they get together, they try to complete the proverbial puzzle. As Carvalho calls it, “A chaotic methodology, with too many pauses in the meantime.”

But it hasn’t always been this way, the compositional methodology has suffered many changes over time. When Guerreiro and Carvalho were working on their EP, Maze of Time, at the time, alongside Susana Gamito and Marcus Reis, “It felt a less chaotic, more structured process. Still, nobody knows in which order the songs we composed came out.” Guerreiro even tells us, “If you knew the order in which we had composed them, you’d be able to understand the evolution of our creative process.”

Going forward, the listener may wonder if Phreneticis will be sticking exclusively to the genre of progressive death metal. While this is the genre Phreneticis get the most pleasure in playing at this time,
Guerreiro and Carvalho aren’t closed to the outside world of music. With infinite possibilities, Guerreiro and Carvalho would gladly welcome a change when they feel it naturally, “We play what we feel like playing. At the moment, we feel like playing this, so we play this,” says Guerreiro.

If Phreneticis get stuck in a genre bind, and can only compose in a specific style, they’ll, “Lose their motivation,” as Guerreiro tells us, and motivation, as many will know, is a musicians’ best friend and worst enemy. And in that vein, diversity is Phreneticis panacea.

As for influences, there’s a big clash in that regard between Guerreiro and Carvalho, as such, ironically, it’s what makes Phreneticis sound unique. Guerreiro’s favorite band is Opeth, and when he’s creating, some
Opeth emerges — it’s all over. As Carvalho says, “Even if subconsciously, your influences will always pop up, although, in our case, it is intentional, clearly conscious.

Guerreiro further elaborates, “If we could tell you what our influences would be when it comes to the sound and ambiance, we would say Opeth, Death, Obscura, Agalloch, and Akercocke. I like atmospheric black metal. We looked into it, and it sounds a bit like the kind of music a gamer would play in the background of a Dark Souls’ speedrun video.”

We asked Carvalho if their music has any sort of specific message, to this, Carvalho says he feels, “There’s not any sort of message we want to share with people, we just play some things, and we find it cool — that’s it. We play it and may people have fun with it.”

To the same question, Guerreiro answers, as a comeback, “Actually, I think…that is a message in and of itself. To tell the crowd you have found that melody…it’s cool.”

Phreneticis EP, Maze of Time, has been released on January 21st, 2022. A selection of five songs, which amounts to thirty minutes, acts as a literal maze in which you’ll lose yourself in.

Image credit: Sonia Ferreira/All images courtesy of Phreneticis

Connect with Phreneticis here.

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