Most of the grindcore releases that have come from Necropolis and its Deathvomit imprint are obsessed with the occult and deal with such themes as Satanism, evil, hellfire, demons, and witchcraft. But Phobia's Serenity Through Pain is an exception. This blistering, ferocious CD has all the Deathvomit/Necropolis trademarks -- choked, growling vocals, insanely fast tempos, sledgehammer aggression, etc. But lyrically, Serenity Through Pain is another matter. While other Deathvomit/Necropolis discs are consistently occult-minded, this 2001 release focuses on sociopolitical matters. Lead vocalist Shane McLachlan is an anarchist, and his dark, angry lyrics attack organized religion as vehemently as they attack government. (While libertarians believe in small, limited government, anarchists believe in no government at all.) Of course, it is usually difficult to understand those lyrics; McLachlan's disturbing growl makes it hard to make out the words that are coming from his mouth -- and therefore, it renders them less effective. But you can make out certain phrases here and there, and Deathvomit provides a lyric sheet so that no one will have to wonder what McLachlan is singing about. And whether you agree or disagree with the band's politics, Phobia's lyrics are generally well written. Political propaganda -- be it liberal, conservative, anarchist, socialist, or communist -- has its place in music as long as it is well done. Unlike some grindcore combos, Phobia doesn't embrace a 500-miles-per-hour tempo 100 percent of the time. It does slow things down at times, although not often enough to avoid the sort of predictability that characterizes so many grindcore releases. Phobia is still fairly predictable, although not quite as predictable as some grindcore bands. But despite its limitations, Serenity Through Pain is a cut above other CDs that came from the grindcore field in the early '00s.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson