Serenity Through Pain


Some things in life you’ve just gotta learn to accept. A beloved childhood pet dies. A relationship ends. Parents divorce. Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror disappear into the abyss of suck. Most of it you are forced to live with. However, in the musical case, you can say fuck it, I don’t have to live in the grind past — I can pick myself up and move proudly on. And the vehicle for this self-reassessment is the mighty Phobia. They’re carrying on a storied blast-beat tradition and pushing the medium forward by sheer force of wide-eyed belief and anger. This here is white hot anger and aggression to cauterize and purify the self — without the tiresomely macho poses of hardcore. They’re tighter and more weathered this time around, and I expect with recent world events the next album is gonna be even more fraught.

The music is ominous like dark, heavy clouds — full of lightning and raindrops sharp as knives. The grind parts are more dense and solid, the speed blasts are scratchy and dusty, they make me cough. Cough, cough. The vocals are more urgent, too — it’s like this could be their last album, last song ever — the low growls are so brutish and Cro Magnon that you can feel your brow jut out as you listen; the high vocal screeches, wow, are just totally hysteria-filled, desperate and violated. Good listenin’.

Serenity Through Pain, actively or incidentally, has taken on a broader identification with and reflection of a nationwide atmosphere of distrust and suspicion — now it’s not only the punk sneered at walking down the street, but the Arab families harassed with no provocation, or the trend toward charges of verbal treason and thought crimes, of a one-note media, and bald-faced admissions of a shadow government — Phobia, even the band name takes on new meaning, is standing tall in an age when it’s no longer a lark or a fashion pose to ape Discharge and Doom and old Napalm, it’s potentially treasonous. Now if they only had some more incisive lyrics to properly augment this wall of pure dark energy.

It’s weird isn’t it? I’ve always loved listening to bands like Phobia, Discharge and their ilk, but in the midst of the Bush Administration, it becomes so refreshing and so essential to hear any dissent expressed in art and music.

Deathvomit / Necropolis Records:

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