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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
Our score 8

by Cory

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.

Comments (25) post new comment
retch_ 3/30/2006 9:07:37 PM

first. great cd

rob_mcfeters_ 3/30/2006 9:32:47 PM

excellent all around

_and__ 3/30/2006 9:41:06 PM

good band. they deserve mucho respecto.

carrion_ 3/30/2006 10:01:41 PM

This album, as well as Phobia in general, slays. Get Means Of Existsance as well

f28r06a42n12k_ 3/30/2006 10:28:34 PM

OoH, looks like I found my next purchase.

xtroyx_ 3/30/2006 10:32:55 PM

sign. missing phobia and disfear in may. haven't heard this record yet, but the mp3 sounds amazing.

poo_ 3/30/2006 10:47:19 PM

i enjoy rear rapage and poo in my mouth with sticks of gum shoved in my eye sockets... was that a joke?.... who the hell knos

TheReapersSon_ 3/31/2006 3:41:47 AM

Why did I see this coming? Good review though. An album like this deserves more than a few paragraphs.

timmytimmylowlow_ 3/31/2006 4:30:06 AM

f*cking amazing cd!

burzum_ 3/31/2006 11:36:32 AM

love me some Phobia.

justinbean_ 3/31/2006 11:50:42 AM

yes. phobia is awesome.

ass_cobra_ 3/31/2006 1:45:20 PM

don't forget to mention the amazing drumming on this record, courtesy of Danny Walker (Uphill Battle, Exhumed, Intronaut)!!!

wigjam_ 3/31/2006 2:18:56 PM

way to not say anything about the album again, you stupid waste of gay. goddamn. how about you write a f*cking review about what the album sounds like. jesus christ you're a stupid gay piece of shit. i think i hate you mare than i hate adam smellbound

you_are_the_experiment_ 3/31/2006 2:51:07 PM

wigjam - try reading the middle paragraph instead of stuffing black dicks in every hole your body has. does it not explain what the album sounds like? next time read the review before you post the same moronic review comment as a majority of all the fat, unfunny sloths on lambgoat you useless f*ckbag.

theseguys_ 3/31/2006 6:27:35 PM

No care too corey failure aids jorsh mike

ckk_ 3/31/2006 7:41:55 PM

Grindcore is garbage, and after hearing the mp3, I've come to the conclusion that all grindcore bands are interchangeable. Repetative mindless tripe that all sounds the same.

joe_don_baker_ 4/1/2006 12:55:37 AM

ckk sees right through grindcore

TheReapersSon_ 4/1/2006 4:33:29 AM

lol @ ckk calling grindcore repetitive interchangeable garbage when he listens to "toughguy" metal-tinged hr4dc0re bands like Merauder, h8 Inc and 100 Demons.

LAd00d_ 4/1/2006 2:02:19 PM

Cattle Decapitation > Phobia. yeah, i said it.

you_are_the_experiment_ 4/2/2006 8:15:31 PM

^^^ gaytoy.

dave_ 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

anonymous 4/3/2006 4:22:57 PM

haha ckk is such a gay

rob_ 4/6/2006 5:14:14 PM

Sounds a lot like Rotten Sound.

LAd00d_ 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"

anonymous 24 days ago

it's like this - you gotta believe.