It was the year 1990. Orange County, California was about to become the site of a scathing revolution geared at the annihilation of mainstream society’s mindset. It was an explosion fueled by the ideals of hardcore and the abrasive, crusty hostility of grindcore pioneers. The message: one of a rage based on socio political revolt. Little did the sleepwalking masses know, but the OC was about to become the battered headquarters of a brand new beast. The four originators of this insurrection branded themselves with the name Phobia and quickly set to work on their mission to bulldoze the norm with no remorse. Through the release of several EP’s, splits and full-length assaults, Phobia has quickly gained sizable ground on the extreme music map over the past several years.
Finding kindred spirits with the likes of occasional tour-mates Circle of Dead Children and Pig Destroyer’s Scott Hull (who produced the band’s 2006 effort, Cruel), vocalist Shane “The Pain” McLachlan and his partners-in-grind have managed to find many fruitful and deadly alliances in their quest. It is an undertaking that continues to this very day as Phobia have just revealed another gear in their blasting, crust-grind war machine in the form of a new, devastating EP, just before their upcoming kill-campaign this winter with Eyehategod and Goatwhore.
Unrelenting (Relapse Records) is just that. Vicious and unmerciful in its attack, the EP simply does not stop until all opposition is turned to ash. Taking the shape of seventeen skull-bashing songs in around fifteen minutes, the EP is essentially a brief lesson in crust/grind ferocity, true to its blissfully ugly form. After the climactic build of intro “T.R.O.G.“, the brakes go out and it’s all-out war ‘til the last note. Most songs found here clock in at a little under the one-minute mark. “Life’s Animosity”, nonstop in its chaotic blast, is the closest to “epic” length, at just under two minutes. Meanwhile, “You Get No Remorse“ and “Soon” amount to no more seconds than as many fingers as a normal human has on both hands combined. “Sign of Times” delivers blow after incendiary blow until coming to, quite literally, a screeching halt, courtesy of McLachlan’s hell-borne growl-and-scream vocal approach. “Killing Time” lets the listener know that they are about to witness the end of life as they know it, with another helping of furious blast and searing guitar ripping through the song’s duration. The EP’s losing number, “If You Used To Be Punk, You Never Were”, draws the no-prisoners slaughter to a close with the surgical precision of a jackhammer to the skull.
Equal parts venomous grind insanity and d-beat structure, Unrelenting is simultaneously explosive and catchy. Solid, almost thrash-inspired riffs are scattered throughout and the playing and production are both crystal-fucking-clear. If you’re not yet aware of Phobia and their frenzied assault, that is unfortunate. If you’re not too familiar with grind, especially in its early incarnations, you might want to wear a damn helmet. In league, style-wise, with that of Napalm Death and/or Brutal Truth, the band simply cannot go wrong in their self-imposed duty to eradicate the plastic mainstream and this EP is, in essence, further proof of their ability to de-fucking-strrroy. In Grind we Crust!!