I really gave these Six Feet Under-worshipping Finns a hard time about the lack of catchiness and poor sound quality on last year’s I Chose Death EP, and deservedly so. Fucking up Death Metal this simple is like fucking up a can of SpaghettiOs. But I am still a huge fan of theirs —everything that bears their name circa 2003-2009 is tits— and was truly hoping for Phobia to be a bounceback effort. For the most part, it is. I don’t know about that Stella cunt, but Torture Killer certainly got their groove back. The production is still clown shoes —I actually had to double-check my stereo to make sure the EQ was set properly— but aside from sounding like it was recorded in John Wayne Gacy’s crawlspace, Phobia’s highs significantly outweigh its lows. Go ahead and skip over opener “Devil’s Reject.” It’s essentially a mediocre appetizer for the raw meat main course of the next three songs to follow. The title track and “Await His Third Arrival” are pure Torture Killer. Stomping, headbangable beats, ham-fisted chug, catchy choruses… simple, simple, simple, but it works. While he’s still far from my favorite Torture Killer vocalist, I’m starting to warm up to Pessi Haltsonen’s ultra-basic low growl this second time around. Truth be told, tunes this instantly infectious don’t need much behind the mic to seal the deal. Speaking of infectious tunes and former Torture Killer vocalists, Chris Barnes drops by to lend his guest gargle to Death ‘n’ Roll anthem “Written in Blood.” It seems as though the quintet penned the track with Barnes’ storied appreciation of AC/DC in mind, but again… it works. Elsewhere, “March of Death” features the best Obituary riff we’ve heard in ages, while the tandem of instrumental “Epitaph” and closer “Voices” recall the band’s depressive melody dabbling found on 2009’s Sewers. As alluded to, the record isn’t entirely filler-free —wake me up when “Faces of My Victims” ends, and has anyone seen “The Book of a Dying World“‘s hook?— but overall, you’ll need to ice your neck down after the majority of this monster. It’s good to have Torture Killer kicking ass again. If it’s too simple, you’re too gay.
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