Phobia’s back with another blast of crusty grindcore – it’s what you expect; it’s what you want; it’s what you need.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but still, it’s not too terribly far off track. Half of that statement is unequivocally true – plain and simple facts – and the other half is based on and backed up by some personal experience. There’s just something so visceral and intensive about Phobia’s take on straight-ahead grindcore that it hits the spot perfectly when all I want is a primal scream, something loud and proud and grind as fuck, to use the band’s own terminology.
In his review of Beaten To Death’s Xes And Strokes, a work so on-target that I’ve now referenced it twice in different pieces, my ever-insightful colleague Ramar Pittance pointed out that, by and large, grindcore “rejects nonsense in much the same way that it rejects everything – compressing sound along each axis to create something impenetrable, utilitarian. It is a killing thing.” Ol’ Ramar may as well have written those words about Phobia, because, in a way, Phobia is the grindcore-est of grindcore bands, an old-guard outfit rooted in tradition and still operating within a thoroughly blast-beaten framework. This is grind that is purposefully devoid of progression; this is crusty, punked-up, often blast-happy, always furious, reveling in the expected tropes of the style at the same time that it’s simply crushing your skull. In Phobia fashion, Remnants Of Filth doesn’t step outside the lines marked by the band’s twenty-plus years of existence thusfar, but then again, it doesn’t need to: It fills the space between those lines; these guys shaped that small space and they own it.
Produced by Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, other bands he’s not even in), Remnants Of Filth is stout and pummeling – it improves signifcantly upon the slightly muddy tones of Unrelenting. (In retrospect, on that last effort, what I would’ve said then was crustiness was in reality just imperfection.) Between the increase in sonic values and some of the best tunes that Phobia has put together, Remnants rivals the band’s previous highwater mark, 2006’s Cruel, for a spot at the top of their game. (Hull also produced that record, if you’re keeping track of the man’s resume.) Mostly these tunes are the expected punk-fueled ragers – there’s micro-song grinding punishment (“Got The Fear,” “Freedom Isn’t Free”) and d-beat-based bashing (“Deaden To Believe,” “Filthy Fucking Punks”), one-minute full-on grinders (“Contradiction”) and even hints of melody in penultimate track “Resuscitate.”
Those looking for a distilled form of crust-tinted grindcore should investigate without qualm, though as good as Remnants is, those who decidedly don’t appreciate Phobia’s singular focus on grinding your fucking head in likely still won’t appreciate it here. Remnants is a sonically sharpened version of the same blunt-force attack these guys have been enacting for years, and it’s arguably their best effort to date. This is Phobia doing what Phobia does, and for Phobia, it’s not about expansion; it’s about fury. It’s a killing thing.