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Phobia Cruel

Phobia - Cruel
01. Cruel MP3
02. Death To False Punks
03. So Full Of Hate
04. Scientific Fraud
05. Slaying Bastards
06. Get The Fuck Out
07. Drunken Spree Of Violence
08. Your Turn Next
09. Grind
10. Let's Get Pissed
11. Loud, Proud and Punk as Fuck
12. Cursed
13. Ignorant American
14. Yankee Swine
15. Fascist Smash Face
16. Wars With Us
17. Never
18. Kill To Love
19. War of the Sexes
20. Enemy of the State
21. Numb
2006 Willowtip Records

Reviewed by: Cory   //   Published: 3/30/2006

My first experience with Phobia occurred a few years ago when a friend was trying to find musical common ground between us. Aside from a handful of classic punk bands that we both grew up listening to, I had very little interest in most of his favorite anarcho and crust punk bands. He had picked up Phobia's split with Resist and Exist earlier that week and he put on the Phobia side. Within a few weeks, we had downloaded, tracked down and purchased pretty much their entire catalog between the two of us. The point of this story is that Phobia is one of the rare grindcore bands that seems capable of appealing to to non-traditional grind fans, thanks largely in part to their punk attitude and resulting unique aesthetic. After 16 years of churning out a dozen or so releases on legendary labels like Slap-A-Ham and Relapse, Phobia has found a home at Willowtip Records and have released what is undeniably their best-sounding (and arguably their best overall) record to date, Cruel.

For those previously unacquainted with Phobia, all you need to know is that they play politically minded grindcore extremely well. Following the blueprint of pioneering bands like Napalm Death or Sore Throat, Phobia's brand of grind comes with intelligent, socially conscious lyrics that rarely take themselves too seriously. If this isn't necessarily your thing, just don't read the lyrics and imagine they're singing about raping babies or eating puppies or something. Rather than incoherent gutturals, vocalist Shane McLachlan utilizes a vocal approach that's somewhere between old school hardcore and classic death metal, along with a handful of higher-pitched accents throughout. The thing that really stands out to me about Phobia is that their songs are structured much more like punk rock songs than typical grind songs. Many of them have discernible verse/chorus/verse progressions, most of them have clear riffing themes and all of them are memorable within the context of the record. "Slaying Bastards," "Your Turn Next," and "Let's Get Pissed" all feature some notably punk rock moments. Songs like "Grind," "Loud, Proud and Punk as Fuck" and "Fascist Smash Face" definitely show that Phobia has a sense of humor about their unusual combination of ethos and musical style.

Those already familiar with Phobia should already know that while their songwriting and performance have always been top-notch, their recordings have generally been less than stellar. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. Some of their recordings have been borderline unlistenable. Cruel is the first Phobia record on which the production sounded great and fit the band like a glove. I'm willing to give a large part of the credit to Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Anal Cunt) whose work both playing in and producing some of the premier grind bands of the last decade definitely give him a special insight into what grind should sound like. Aside from a handful of cheesy vocal reverb effects, this record was produced in an incredibly clear and straightforward manner. It doesn't sound like Meshuggah, but it also doesn't sound like it was recorded in a garage, and that balance is perfect for Phobia, who haven't lost any of their edge. Interestingly, Shane McLachlan, Phobia's lead singer shares bass playing duties with guitarist Steve Burda and they aptly fill the hole left by Bruce Reeves, who departed the band in late 2005. For their upcoming tour, they have tapped Leon Del Muerte, previously of Exhumed, Impaled and, currently, Intronaut. The band seems excited about their new bassist and I'm sure their fans are excited for the tour.

Bottom Line: Current fans of Phobia will be ecstatic to hear that the band hasn't given up a bit of their trademark bite despite a much cleaner recorded sound. New fans will hopefully find Cruel to be a great starting point for exploring the band's extensive back catalog. Either way, Cruel stands on its own as a well-done and one-of-a-kind grindcore experience. Phobia continue to defy the conventions of their musical genre much in the same way their strong stance on politics defies our nation's current state of mind.

LAd00d_   posted 4/7/2006 2:44:30 PM
you_are_the_experiment is the biggest closet gayg0t on this site... lemme guess, you are a 14 year old white, middle american republican? go f*ck yourself "gaytoy"
rob_   posted 4/6/2006 5:14:14 PM
Sounds a lot like Rotten Sound.
anonymous   posted 4/3/2006 4:22:57 PM
haha ckk is such a gay
dave_   posted 4/3/2006 1:44:57 PM
Don't f*ck with these guys, you'll get a bass in the face!!!!!

good record, I enjoy
you_are_the_experiment_   posted 4/2/2006 8:15:31 PM
^^^ gaytoy.

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