Phobia is an Orange County, California-based grindcore band that's been through the wringer, around the block, down the alleyway through and through again since their formation long ago. Ergo, they're an aging bunch with a three decade-long career filled with gratingly brutal vocals, lightning fast guitar riffs, and an assload of political and social "morals" within their 20+ releases. Ever since, the four-piece collective has played a ton of shows and continues to kick some butt...and, with them being one of the innovators and first of their kind in the US of A grind scene, it takes a lot of guts to keep it moving and continue pumping them out after all this time. However, these Orange County bringers of destruction are back again with a brand new EP to serenade our senses with. Oh boy, let's get this show on the road!
Not too many breakdowns here, but still a metric ton of fast tremolos and other types of droning riffs throughout. Other than that, the new release by Phobia titled Generation Coward serves as a follow-up to the band's previous sixth full-length back in 2017. With this new EP being their tenth or so extended play, it goes to show that stacking up and bringing the same energy on this one may be difficult. A 13 track collection of sociopolitical rants, crazy riffs, the occasional audio samples and more put into just about fifteen minutes worth of content, Generation Coward was released on August 9th, 2019 via Willowtip Records.
EP starts off pretty smoothly and strongly with 'Cynic Bastard', one early track that sports a sort-of blackened vibe with its tremolo chords, unorthodox atmosphere for the band, and unexpected climax with a fairly standard Phobia grind verse consisting of both low growls and high shrieks. It's a blast for a starting song. However, a lot of the songs that follow (every second one or so) happen to be very short, few second filler tracks consisting of one verse and some mindless riffing. Now, I know what you're thinking: "it's a staple of the genre...many artists in grind do this", etc. And yes, it's comical but I was really hoping for more variety and structure that was present in the intro (and outro track at the very end, which is sort of fleshed out and somewhat melodic to boot) to be more prevalent in this one. 'Imbecile' is another fairly decent composition with some funny lines and crazy flow, as well as stuff like 'Internet Tough Guy', which I'm sure many may relate to on a personal level; and a couple of other later songs that include audio samples, namely one being from a South Park clip.
Additionally, the vocals are generally the stronger factor surrounding this release because of their variety and the willingess to mix growls, highs, some cleans and spoken vox all together...and to great effect I may add. Instrumentals are pretty standard and nothing to write home about, besides the pretty stellar production quality and nostalgic snare sound. A ton of the tracks in the EP's latter half (meaning after about the seven minute mark or so in the release) are pretty interchangeable, with only the last couple ones being somewhat memorable or surprising, especially 'Condemned To Tell' with its eclectic tempo and different sort of guitar work. Quite a few songs on here are pretty listenable due to their vox and comedic tones/lyrics alone, while some others fall flat or end off too abruptly, but such is the music.
This one is as all-over-the-place chaotic as I would've wanted it to be at the end of the day. Also, it's an obviously and unsurprisingly brief (given the genre) release that won't take up too much of your time if it's not to your liking. Sure, there is a lot of predictability throughout its running time, but Generation Coward ultimately makes itself worthy of a listen or two due to how fast-paced and energetic it is from start to finish, in addition to the little nuances, riffs, and vocal variety aside from all the comedic hilarity in between. There are also some pretty solid messages to be found on here overall, so there are quite a few merits here and there. But, ultimately it's a fast, dumb and moderately amusing/fun EP that will likely tickle the proverbial feathers of longtimer fans of the band or genre itself. It's nothing new or not really something you'll really recall long term; however, it's still edgy, loud and makes you uncomfortable about most things in life...so there is that, and for that I thank it.
Fave Tracks: 'Cynic Bastard', 'Internet Tough Guy', 'Condemned To Tell'
For Fans Of: Insect Warfare, Nasum, really any other grindcore that comes to mind
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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