Killer grindcore veterans Phobia keep things mean on ‘Remnants of Filth’

There’s something about grindcore that’s made me a little sleepy the past few years. I think it’s the lack of variety and passion I hear in the younger bands that’s made me pay a little less attention to this subgenre as time has gone by. I used to eat up this style of music, but today, not so much.

But again, that’s not because I don’t like the relentless, violent style, but it has way more to do with not having any terribly exciting new voices coming forward. Luckily, there remain some veteran acts that never lost an ounce of their emotion and ability to make a record an all-out demolition that’s both painful and incredibly fun to hear. Young kids trying to follow in the footsteps of your heroes, get your pen and paper ready and take notes on today’s subject matter. No, I don’t mean what I’m writing, but rather what this band is dishing out.

Phobia, who have been crushing bodies since 1990, still are one of the finest, most reliable bands around. Their formula is a ton of songs mashed into a tiny little bit of space, yet they make the most of such as small course. The band’s been led by Shane Mclachlan since its inception, and while he’s typically taken many of the roles that go into a Phobia album, here he’s strictly doing vocals. And doing them maniacally aggressively. The rest of the band is rounded out by drummer Bryan Fajardo, bassist Calum Mackenzie, and newcomer guitarists CC Loessin and Dorian Rainwater, and the group sounds as channeled and devastating as ever. They blast through 18 cuts in a little over 19 minutes on “Remnants of Filth,” the band’s fifth full-length album.

What you typically expect from a Phobia album is here. You’ve got your movie clip intros, your minute-long songs, your growl/shriek mixes from Mclachlan, and an explosive assault that never lets up over the course of these 18 cuts, even if they’re not in total full-speed mode the entire time. There’s some change-up here and there that keeps things fresh and exciting, but the intensity always remains full throttle and blasting you in the mouth.

The record opens with “Assertion to Demean,” a blistering dose of grind that is followed up by the speed shrieks of “Contradiction”; the incredibly vicious “Plagued By the System”; the oddly structured, Napalm Death-saluting “Resolution”; the fiery punk serving of “Let It Go” (including a sound bit of a preacher speaking of the ills of death metal); “Deaden to Believe,” that could have used the intro more since this reeks of classic death; the total madness of “Vengeance”; and the detonation of closer “Inaction.” As noted, there are a few songs on here that have some different things going on that help these cuts stick out. “Got the Fear” begins in a sludgy, doomy note (along with a sample about getting loaded) before it launches fully; “Freedom Isn’t Free” is built on a thrash groove and has spirited gang vocals that lean toward punk and hardcore; “Filthy Fucking Punks” has a classic thrash feel and a more calculated tempo; while “Resuscitate” is catchy and fun, with a lot of melody and the potential to draw a different ilk of fans than normally would buy a Phobia album.

There’s not exactly new ground broken by Phobia on this record, but there really doesn’t need to be. This is one of grindcore’s most trustworthy and effective bands, and “Remnants of Filth” is another solid addition to the band’s other full-lengths and who-knows-how-many EPs and split releases. Their music should be angry textbooks every budding, up-and-coming grind band should devour whole. It might help bring some life back to a subgenre that’s been a little lifeless as of late.

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