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Phobia - "Unrelenting" (CD)

Phobia - "Unrelenting" CD cover image

"Unrelenting" track listing:

1. T.R.O.G.
2. Rehashed
3. You Get No Remorse
4. Enemy Within
5. Revolt Your Life
6. Tradition Of Power
7. Sign Of Times
8. Out Of Control
9. Soon
10. Mental State
11. Life’s Animosity
12. Dying For Who?
13. Total Kollapse
14. Strive Conception
15. Nothing Matters
16. Killing Time
17. If You Used To Be Punk, Then You Never Where

Reviewed by on November 23, 2010

"Grind-o-philes rejoice, this one is up there for grinder of the year with Wormrot’s 'Abuse.'"

Orange County socio-political grind freak veterans Phobia returned in late 2010 with “Unrelenting,” a 15-minute, 17-song EP featuring the lineup of Shane McLachlan on vocals, Steve Burda on guitar, Calum MacKenzie on bass, and Brian Fajardo behind the kit. This is a solid slab of grind goodness on which the fat has been seared off and only the truncated choice cuts of furious grinding cacophony are left.

From the crusty d-beat intro of the opening track, “T.R.O.G.,” “Unrelenting” doesn’t waste a second on anything remotely overblown or pretentious. It’s all about the buzz saw and the blast. McLachlan’s raspy lows and piercing high range is a mix of Anthony Rezhawk of Terrorizer and Resistant Culture and Napalm Death’s Mitch Harris’s ear splitting backups. All the grind standards are there, from the blink-and-you-missed-it tracks such as the 10 second “You Get No Remorse” and the band’s answer to Napalm Death’s “You Suffer,” the six-second “Soon,” to the pure blasting fury of “Rehashed” and “Enemy Within.” Rare moments of reprieve are brief before another blast beats you over the head. Even shout-along choruses on “Revolt Your Life” and “Killing Time” are compacted to the words within the titles.

Each song bleeds remorselessly into the mouth of the next with intensity and immediacy. Punchy three-word vocal lines hammer home the fact that in grind everything, even five-second guitar solos, must have a purpose and a rock solid effect on the listener. There is no room for filler. Sneering punk attitude, spitting equal parts venom and satire, comes through in tracks such as “Life’s Animosity” and “Dying for Who,” which ripples with hardcore brashness and shrill grind outrage. Only on the standout “Nothing Matters” does Phobia actually slow things down for a moment. The closer, “If You Used to be Punk, Then You Never Were.” showcases both the sense of humor and die-hard attitude of these warriors of two decades in the California and global grind scenes. Grind-o-philes rejoice, this one is up there for grinder of the year with Wormrot’s “Abuse.”

Highs: Nary a riff or a fill is wasted on this punishing EP.

Lows: In sticking to the pure grind sound, it can be difficult to differentiate one track from another.

Bottom line: Phobia remains as relevant a grindcore act as ever, two decades into their career.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)