Over the course of the Viennese band’s creative trajectory, Phal:Angst has veered from the unbridled angst of its punk/hardcore roots toward the more expansive post-rock textures that can be heard on this fifth album. This isn’t to say that the group has completely abandoned the sound of old, for traces are interspersed throughout the brooding passages and introspective atmospheres of Whiteout. Indeed, the album holds true to its title with resonant clean guitar lines and pianos trickling amid washes of bass and throbbing synthesized hazes, particularly on the opening title track; martial drums slowly build in the ashen miasma, lulling us into the song’s bleak clutches until an explosion of distorted guitars and gutturally whispered vocals submerge the listener in sonic doom. Much of the album follows similar patterns of tension and anticipation, from the analog pulses and lashing beats of “What Rests Mute in Bright Corners” beautifully weaving through peaks and valleys of vocals and droning electronics, to the hearty tableau of electronic rhythms and sardonic vocals on “Severance,” the concluding remix by Jarboe adding the slightest touch of whimsy with the samples and lyrics bidding us farewell. There’s an inherent shoegazing quality to a song like “Least Said, Soonest Mended” as the drone of rapidly strummed guitar and haunted vocal layers are sure to appeal to fans of Jesu, while the growling metallic groove of “Unhinged” is accompanied by narrative samples of Orson Welles to instill a sense of receiving ritualistic transmissions from another time; the Lustmord version of the latter track offers up some rather intriguing ambient variations that emphasize the cold repetition of Phal:Angst’s approach. As unrelenting yet as meditative as Swans, yet with a sonic ardor not unlike Mogwai, Whiteout can best be described as a hypnotic endurance test – lengthy compositions that eschew the conventions of songcraft in favor of streams of blackened consciousness that manage to ensnare the listener in those moments when it seems like the grip is loosening. Meandering, monochromatic, and monolithic, Phal:Angst isn’t pretending to take you on a pleasant ride with Whiteout, but through the maelstrom will at least be a memory or two worth saving.