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Good things shouldn't die. Old school death metal is one of those things, that keeps on breathing and is doing well. One of these bands who are keeping this old rotten corpse alive are Phobia from Italy, and they aren't newcomers, but formed in 1997. After two demos and the 2001 debut album 'Sick Bleamished Uncreation' they split up in 2002. However, Phobia was exhumed next year and have been around since. Come 2012 and the sophomore album was finally out: 'The Holy Deceiver'.
After a short, eerie intro made out of sounds of thunder, church bells and praying, 'Necrosanctity' blasts out of speakers. Quite many tempo changes pull listener from many directions, varying from fast blasting to mid-tempo chugging. The rusty, thick and low-tuned sound of hell-axe is really skull-splitting. It's that familiar Swedish-invented guitar timbre. Phobic are heavily influenced by Swedish bands, for example Dismember, Hypocrisy and Vomitory, but also militarism of Bolt Thrower can be sensed at times. This is gloomy, violent and heavy, but sometimes rocking groove gets forward in beats and guitar solos. Here and there, but not very much, more melodic parts occur. Still, the music here is about evil and aggression, so Phobic do not go and do it in vein of In Flames.
There's nothing new introduced by the band on this album, and hardly neither between the songs. The best thing about this is, that the songs are rather memorable, and the meandering compositions aren't that complex, that the band would get lost during them. The album's 38-minute duration is suitably short, but still big enough a dose of old school death metal hell. But if you want something more characteristic, then you should try something else.
The production is above average. The drums blast maybe a tad too loudly, at times shadowing that thicker-than-smog guitars. The bass is audible, as it isn't very low in tuning. The bellowing, low-growled, throaty vocals also are high in the mix. Lively painted cover artwork with a rotten pope is more than a small hint about the music inside. The lyrics are totally based on religions' deceitful nature, and are good and fairly long regarding that the band comes from Italy.
The band sounds energetic and soulful, but a listener should not expect to hear anything new and unique on 'The Holy Deceiver'. So, it's pure heart-blood that tastes here. And if you dig old school death metal, you could do much, much worse, but still, you can also find much, much better stuff out there. Try before you buy.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)