Obsessions Become Phobias

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If a metal band recorded for Man's Ruin in the early 1990s and was influenced by Black Sabbath, the logical assumption was that the band specialized in stoner rock -- which has been a high priority at that label. But Disengage, although Sabbath-influenced, isn't really a stoner band. Rather, Obsessions Become Phobias (the Ohio outfit's second album and first for Man's Ruin) is alternative metal with punk influences. This generally decent, if a bit uneven, CD has some classic metal influences -- including Sabbath and Led Zeppelin -- but the band's sound also owes something to punk. Instead of getting into the sort of fuzzy guitars and self-consciously slow riffs that stoner bands are known for, Disengage combines its admiration for Sabbath and Zeppelin with a certain nervousness -- the kind of nervousness that a headbanger would have if he/she also happens to like punk. Disengage, of course, are hardly the first headbangers who were influenced by punk. Back in the late 1970s -- more than 20 years before this 2000 release came out -- the seminal Motorhead (which was arguably the first thrash band) successfully demonstrated that metal and punk could be a highly potent combination. And Motorhead's innovations heavily influenced Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, and countless other thrash outfits that emerged in the 1980s. That isn't to imply that Disengage sounds like Motorhead or is a thrash band, but the Midwestern headbangers obviously appreciate punk's nervous energy and its sneering, in-your-face attitude -- things that are quite compatible with the type of balls-to-the-wall riffs that Sabbath, Zeppelin, Judas Priest and their high-decibel colleagues provided in the 1970s. Although not perfect, Obsessions Become Phobias is a likable alterna-metal outing that has more ups than downs.

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