Phobophilic Brought Death to NYC w/ Undeath, 200 Stab Wounds, More (Interview, Live Report)
A sold-out death metal show on a Sunday night at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar is an impressive feat, but consider the bands that were playing and it becomes a little easier to understand. Phobophilic and Undeath were recently featured as part of Decibel Magazine’s annual top 40 with Undeath being awarded the top spot, recent Metal Blade signees 200 Stab Wounds are fresh off a new single, and crossover thrash powerhouse Enforced have two excellent albums already to their credit. This was such a popular lineup that a second show was added for the day after.
Fargo, North Dakota’s own Phobophilic led things off with dark and destructive death metal that seems to have so many different influences, making them very difficult to pick apart easily. Seeing as this was a sold-out affair, the crowd was already massive for these violent residents of the Peace Garden State. Playing ample cuts from their debut LP, Enveloping Absurdity plus a few oldies from their demos, these death metal denizens are a must see. Following next were Richmond thrashers Enforced; crushing energy was the name of their game. Hot off last year’s Century Media debut and sophomore album Kill Grid, guns were ablaze throughout their set including a new track off of a yet to be named third album. The circle pits this commanded included a dude shooting directly across the floor to completely annihilate one of the concertgoers in spectacular fashion. Good, friendly, violent fun.
With a new single released only a few days earlier, 200 Stab Wounds had a lot to be proud of. Their final Maggot Stomp release Slave To The Scalpel helped make a name for them towards the end of 2021 (read our interview from the time). The raucous crowd packed through the bar at Vitus by this point was very much all about what this Cleveland collective brought to the table including the aforementioned new single “Masters of Morbidity”. During this set the crowd felt flat-out dangerous.
Wrapping up the night was Undeath, who like most of the crowd were already drenched in sweat. Frontman Alex Jones noted this was happening to him “after only 5 minutes”. It's Time... To Rise From The Grave and Lesions of a Different Kind were featured heavily with some demo tracks too–certainly a longer set than usual for the band, but a 45 minute headlining spot on this co-headlining tour was a great place for them to be in. “Necrobionics” was a special inclusion: as Alex had mentioned in our album rundown earlier this year, it has long been in their setlist but hadn’t made it onto an LP until the last album. It was a perspiration-packed, yet cold evening overall and a show that could not be missed.
Before the show I caught up with Phobophilic guitarist Josh Poer and talked about the Decibel list and their inclusion with Decibel’s Metal and Beer show announcement, the Fargo scene, their influences and what it’s like being on death metal tour of this magnitude and how NYC compared to more humble parts of the Midwest.
You’ve been out on the road for a little while, so how has everything been going with that so far?
Josh Poer: Everything is going well so far; all the shows have been really great. We are on day 3 of the tour and did a hometown tour kickoff before heading out.
I haven’t met anybody that has either lived in or even from North Dakota before, let alone a metal scene for bands like yourselves and Maul. What’s it like for a few bands from Fargo to make names for themselves?
JP: Maul are our homies since before they were a band for maybe 10 plus years. 2 bands making names for themselves nationally, you’d be surprised that we have something out there, but it’s a really special time.
How would a music scene in such a remote place like Fargo, ND come to be?
JP: Every city has their own DIY hardcore scene, and since everyone has gotten a bit older, we have started to branch out a little more musically.
In the last few days Decibel’s Top 4o list has come out and you guys are out on tour with Undeath who was also featured on their year end list, what’s that like for the bands?
JP: Honestly, it feels very surreal and being from Fargo, there aren’t eyes on what’s going on there and we get skipped by tours a lot. So, it’s an honor to get the affirmation from a source outside the local scene.
What are some of the driving forces behind Phobophilic’s sound?
JP: If I were to mention some bands they would be Demilich, Adramelech, Gorment, Carcass, Morbid Angel and Crematory. A lot of Swedish and Finnish stuff but we aren’t a worship band. We don’t want to be put into a box as being accused of sounding like a particular band, we are putting our own spin on this.
What are some of your favorite cities to play in?
JP: Minneapolis is kind of like a second home to us. Even though it’s a 3.5 hour drive we have a lot of friends there too. Iowa City is similar to Fargo and a really sick scene as well, more tours seem to be coming through there. Toledo and Cleveland are other favorites, Milwaukee as well.
What’s it like being in a massively populated place like NYC in comparison to North Dakota?
JP: It’s different. The driving around here is crazy. Being in the city is pretty cool. We just got schooled about how to order a sandwich at a bodega, “lemme get that on a hero” and such.
How does it feel to be a part of Decibel Metal and Beer fest in Philly next year?
JP: It’s an honor to be asked and the lineup is really dope. Playing one of Worm’s first shows is really cool. Hoping to be touring around the festival.
What’s the band’s schedule like for the immediate future? Closing comments?
JP: After this tour we are going to recoup and hit the road in a few months again. Shout out to Maul and the Fargo scene.
Remaining Undeath / 200 Stab Wounds / Enforced / Phobophilic Tour Dates (purchase + Info here):
Nov. 23 - Austin, TX @ Spider Ballroom
Nov. 25 - Dallas, TX @ Cheap Steaks
Nov. 26 - Lubbock, TX @ Jake's
Nov. 28 - Mesa, AZ @ Nile Underground
Nov. 29 - Tucson, AZ @ THE ROCK
Nov. 30 - Las Vegas, NV @ American Legion Post 8
Dec. 2 - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
Dec. 4 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco
Dec. 5 - Sacramento, CA @ Goldfields Trading Co
Dec. 7 - Portland, OR @ Dante's
Dec. 8 - Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Dec. 10 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Dec. 11 - Denver, CO @ HQ
Dec. 12 - Kansas City, MO @ The Rino
Dec. 13 - Lincoln, NE @ The Royal Grove
Dec. 14 - Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
Dec. 15 - Chicago, IL @ Reggie's
Dec. 16 - Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry
Dec. 17 - Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
Dec. 18 - Rochester, NY @ Photo City Music Hall