Phobia (United States Of America) – Grind Your Fucking Head In

Yes, I understand that they need to throw off the shackles of conformity and music industry standards, but could the band really not have added another ten minutes of running time?  I enjoy this album a lot but I can walk across my house to grab a drink and it’s already over.

Other than the short running time, this is quite nice.  It’s modern grindcore with a pinch of crust and death metal; the songs are short and violent and rhythm and speed rather than riff-oriented.  If you look up ‘grindcore’ in the dictionary, this album would be one of the first examples to pop up.  Guitars are atonal buzzsaws that play riffs of a handful of chords but a fuck of a lot of notes each, drums blast and go into flying fills at the end of phrases, and vocals scream until vocal cords are shredded (quite literally; after a Phobia live set I saw, the singer was barely able to speak).  It makes for an intense listening experience.

Music like this is really makes or breaks by its aesthetic and not much else, and Phobia has the aesthetic pretty much perfected.  The music is awesomely brutal and extremely fast, though not really going into absurdist noisecore territory.  The riffs are always discernible and usually quite catchy, and the instrumental performances are all very tight, or as tight as they can be while playing this sort of music.  To call this definitive grindcore would not be a misnomer, as it fulfills really all of the genre’s descriptive elements but never feels particularly trite.  Maybe it’s the apocalyptic atmosphere, or perhaps they’re MORE brutal and faster than other grindcore bands.  It could also be because I enjoy the grindcore aesthetic.  Who knows.

If you’ve heard Nasum’s ‘Inhale/Exhale’, that’s really the litmus test of whether you’ll enjoy Phobia.  It is a grindcore album and possesses no qualities to make a non-grind fan enjoy it above any other band in the style, but those who enjoy it at all would probably be advised to look here, since Phobia is in the upper echelon as far as execution if not originality.  It’s quite a nice little ‘album’, but you could have guessed that from the band releasing it.

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~ by noktorn on September 27, 2008.

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