Song Review: Phrenia – “We Are The Clowns”

Song Review: Phrenia – “We Are The Clowns”

Song: “We Are The Clowns”
Band: Phrenia
Location: Dad’s Garage, Serbia
Date of Release: 18/05/2014
Genre: Teenage Nu-Metal Juggalo Serbians
Reviewer: Ouroboris

Clowns. Are they actually scary? More to the point, are they actually scary anymore? Now that clowns are associated more with middle aged nu-metal bands and douchebag conventions. Has the scary clown image become obsolete? In my opinion – yes. I mean outside of TV and movies have you ever personally met someone who is afraid of clowns? Are they really scary? or is it just that they remind you of Shitknot, IT, Insane Clown Posse and Batman movies.

This brings me to the painful bowl of chug-crackle-and pop of “Phrenia”. Phrenia is a 5 piece nu-metal band (is it still nu after 20 years?) from Serbia. According to their bio, they started in 2012 by covering pop songs in a “heavier sense”. Which is about as relevant as saying you cover Christian songs in a “heavier sense”. The only bands that ever cover pop songs as heavy metal are doing it to take the piss out of it. Once you develop songs that marry pop and metal with the pop side coming from commercial chart hits and ringtones and try to declare it a serious take on the genre – You’re headed for trouble. And that’s where Phrenia should’ve left their pop cover band days behind them. Then again people think Linken Park is metal when clearly it’s a boy band with guitars. It even has the same characters as a boy band, the hot one, the rap one, the tough one.

Ok ok. So Phrenia. I jumped at the chance to review this. Firstly for the shitty music video (most submissions at IPHYB don’t have full videos), secondly because Erised likes them and thirdly for the shitty song. The video is your standard metal video fare. Gratuitous but cautious shot of naked girl, band playing in shed/garage/Mum’s sewing room, lots of flashy video effects and a flag of the logo behind them playing.

The band themselves have done their best to look scary with lots of posing, metaphorical hand gestures and of course the clown makeup. They actually come off as looking like something for the local kids to do before trick or treating. Especially since they all have identical clown makeup. Which just happens to be exactly the same as Heath Ledger’s Joker makeup. Or maybe the abysmal ICP. I don’t know their exact source material for this schtick. The rest of the video is friends of the band waving torches, wrestling and pumpin’ iron and other manly tough cunt shit clowns apparently do – and my personal favourite. Getting Dad dressed up as a clown faced, drag queen to pose and look scary/stupid/Dadly. Taste and tolerance do not live here. If fauxhawks and suspenders are supposed to be scary or even remotely intimidating. I must have missed that meeting.

OK The music. Apart from nu-metal and boy band-metal. There seems to be a big influence of Rammstein (good) or God forbid Orgy?(Where’s my gun?). Aside from the two guitarists providing short, sharp chugs. There’s the synth, which mostly accompanies the riffs (except in the chorus and the uplifting progressive house bit). This song wouldn’t be too bad if they dropped the clown burlesque and fucked off the Linken Park “I really mean what I sing” falsetto shit. The death dog growls aren’t too bad either. They could save this song if they figure out how to replace the Linkening with it.

The production isn’t too bad. The guitars and synths merge in the chorus to let the “fuck I hope we chart” vocals sit high in the mix. The structure isn’t too bad. I wouldn’t mind this if the guitars were higher in the chorus and there was no vocals whatsoever. The drums, guitar and keyboardist are all skilled enough to do what’s required. But there’s far too much focus in the mix on the vocals and as a result, the drums and bass in particular get lost.

It says on their bio they want to bring together their love of metal and electronics. Not a bad goal as long as they eventually realise it takes more than having a keyboard in the band to achieve that. Their love of the pop songs they used to cover is what really sticks out like dog balls in this song though. Now that Linken Park has been around for…fuck..too long. I, like other old school metalheads have to sort of grin and bear their influence on metal, much the same as seeing them placed above actual metal bands on festival lineups. So if you’re into the boy band side of metal. You’ll love this. If you’re looking for heavy and unpretentious. You’ve gotten off at the wrong stop.

Vocals: Growls: 6/10 Cleans: 0/10
Guitars: 8/10
Bass: 3/10
Drums: 7/10
Production: 6/10
Lyrics: 5/10
Songwriting: 7/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 5/10

Song Review: Phrenia – “We Are The Clowns”
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