Night Sky Transform
Night Sky Transform represents that moment when Dephosphorus shrugged off the tyranny of Earth's gravity to slingshot out into the silent, contemplative majesty of the star-dusted cosmos. Having punched roughly through the atmosphere with the astounding Axiom, Dephosphorus now feel free to slow down and behold the wonder that entranced Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse-Tyson. Night Sky Transform is, overall, a slower, more cryptic effort that patiently unspools its secrets over several listens. While bangers like "Cold Omen" fire up the ion engines to keep that forward momentum, Dephosphorus have truly transcended grindcore's limitations into something singular.
Like Dr. Dave Bowman's evolution into the star child in 2001, the DNA of Dephosphorus' grindcore past can still be sussed out, but it's been exploded and reincarnated into something unique. "Starless" still grinds, but it's just one scintillant star in a varied constellation of musical themes and modes. It's the digressions that define Night Sky Transform. With "The Fermi Paradox," guitarist Thanos Mantas gets his turn to step to the mic and intone the song's stately chorus, which builds upon and improves on "Stargazing and Violence" from the Great Falls split. "Unconscious Excursion" brings in Ryan Lipynsky of Thralldom/Unearthly Trance to meld his crusty black magic to the Greeks' skyclad visions of space and time. The uncertain "Aurora" ends Night Sky Transform with the tentative anticipation of first interstellar contact with intelligent life on a hesitant note. It's a fraught moment that could have been the equivalent of old flying saucers that ended with The End...? but instead is far more poignant and aware of humanity's cosmic insignificance.
For all of the carefully considered art at on display, Night Sky Transform just didn't immediately grab me by the cortex the way Axiom did (Perpetual Strife disagrees; Perpetual Strife is wrong). The meditative nature means Night Sky Transform needs more time to seep into your pores, taking up one transcendent molecule at a time via musical osmosis. Just because my connection wasn't immediate doesn't mean the journey wasn't worth it.
I once again have to marvel at the astonishing packaging job done by 7 Degrees. The gorgeous gatefold and nice thick vinyl set the perfect mood for Dephosphorus' intergalactic excursions, and investing in the physical product will also net you the obligatory download code and an excellent album art poster to spruce up your mission control center.
[Full disclosure: 7 Degrees sent me a review copy.]