Album Review: Vortex by Pharm

Pharm hails from Kelowna, British Columbia, in Canada, and plays a brand of rock that is a blend of progressive, metal, and stoner, and could also be called “hyper stoner rock.” Their debut album is called Vortex and has been available since October 29th, 2022.

About Vortex

Pharm is Lucas Segall on bass and vocals, Matt Parson handling guitar duties, and Teagan Ramage supplying thunderous percussion. Vortex is the band’s debut record, was recorded at ArcHouse Studios in Kelowna and mastered by Chris Holmes. The sounds they achieved are crisp and very clean, there’s an excellent separation between the instruments, and everything is easily heard.

“Acolyte” starts the album with a solid stoner riff for the intro, which includes a sweet guitar lead before things head into the first verse. Lucas supplies a very cool vocal with a slick melody that will remain in your head far after the song ends. This is also the first track where you can hear the influence of the progressive masters of Rush, which Pharm has perfectly applied within this track.

The third song is named “Device” and has an infectious earworm of an intro riff. I also like the start-stop attack they used for it, a style that makes its presence known several times throughout this tune, which even makes its way into some of the vocal work. They end things with a spidery progressive-fueled riff that is the best way to finish up.

After a short instrumental called “Rat Milk Part 1,” we find “Crystal Ships,” a song full of 70s rock swagger. I feel that this is also Lucas’s shining moment when it comes to the vocals; I was blown away by the performance he turned in, not to mention the extremely solid bass guitar work he also provides. I think that watching him perform onstage would be quite something to behold.

“Six” has a Primus meets stoner metal with a splash of psychedelia feel, which sounds like an odd mixture, but it’s actually the best-sounding track on Vortex, not to mention that there are nods to their countrymen in Rush as well. Just listen to the superior bass skills on display here, then consider that the vocals are equally as impressive (especially considering that he’s also shredding the bass) and that all three of them are absolutely on fire for the entire seven-plus minutes of the song.

Final Thoughts

Pharm is a very talented trio of musicians taking progressive stoner rock to a level far and above some of their peers. While there were a couple tracks that I wasn’t totally fond of, I would still say that this is one hell of a debut album, and part of that is due to the mastery of their instruments and how they use them to create music. Vortex is available now, and I think that you should make your way to Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube, etc. to find out exactly why this album rocks! Enjoy!

Support Pharm by checking out their Bandcamp or find them on social media (Facebook, Instagram).

This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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