How do you put a band like Phobia in context? Nearly three decades old, with a single/split catalog that makes it almost impossible to really dig in deep to their whole career–at least if you have a job, family, interests and so forth. And that’s without touching the EPs and LPs. Their sound has ranged from almost UKHC noisy to almost NYHC crisp. It’s a bit daunting, if fairly enjoyable to do the due diligence on this Methusellian motherfucker.
Of course none of those great old hardcore acts made much use of the blast beat or death-rattle-to-raspy-scream vocals, but they were unrelenting, catchy as hell and loved a riff. And Phobia loooves their riffs. “Cynic Bastard” deploys its opening riff with all the power and manic energy Phobia has displayed over their career. At a whopping 2:24, this is essentially both intro and opening track in one piece.
From there the band is, well, Phobia. An extremely clear production makes the whole band easily discernible, from buzzed out bass to freight train rhythm guitars to sparse but effective leads. The drums, especially the snare, are a little on the weaker side this time out. Perhaps to accommodate the cleaner sound of the recording as a whole, they don’t really have the impact you kind of expect, but they do the job.
As to song topics, I have to say that as an internet tough guy and PC fascist, I feel personally threatened by Phobia. Also as someone who has lost aspirations and awoken to misery, I feel seen. Also also I am an Imbecile who has excreted, so this is like my life story in grindcore. It’s NIN’s The Fragile all over again.
Downside? Well apart from them threatening me personally with their song titles, the fact is this is not all that different from what a lot of grinders and crusters have been doing over the last ten years or so. So does anything recommend this over Terrorizer or Cripple Bastards? The undercurrent of a band that knows this shit better than you know your own genitals does shine through. Call it the “fun factor” or “bravado bonus” or some alliterative shit like that, but Phobia can drop mass with so much ease it is hard not to like the record. Still, if you are searching for something truly unique or innovative, this is probably not it.
For myself, I tend to listen to big groupings of grind, and can always use another quality album to keep the mix exciting. Phobia is just that: a quality band making quality chaos. I doubt this will be year ender, but it will get played in the future. And, as an ex-special forces sniper trained in tae kwon leap and with at least 14 thousand kills to my name who believes you should never say anything offensive to anyone or I will ban your redneck ass from my university campus, you better fucking take me seriously.