Sunday, 1 June 2014

Fange - Poisse tape

Fange describe themselves as a 'dirty, massive & loud sludge experience', but this is nowhere near as many adjectives to do their music justice. I'd go with 'utterly putrified gargantuan ear-destroying sludge trauma'. Nope, that still doesn't quite cover it.

Formed by members of France's psychedelic fuzz-worshippers Brain Pyramid and Huata, Fange are a far nastier proposition than either. The sound on debut EP Poisse is what you can imagine would happen if Eyehategod pawned all their gear for, well, gear, and had to borrow Entombed's pedals, and were really fucking pissed off about the whole situation.

While the music was obviously what grabbed my attention, it was the presentation of the release that demanded a purchase. With some demented artwork courtesy of guitarist Benjamin Moreau (check out more of his work here), given the space such intricate lines deserve on a VHS-style cassette box, I couldn't wait to snap one up. It took a bit of distro trawling, but I managed to snag one via Throatruiner. So fucking worth it.

The CDs are just as well presented, and still readily available, but personally I'm a tape man.

Opening with 'Grêle Molle', the massive overblown guitar tone is immediately recognisable as the band's weapon of choice, the Boss HM2, which lends their riffs the kind of snarl often heard within the slower end of the heavy spectrum. The everything-in-the-red mix makes you work to pick out discernable details, but the immediate effect is so simultaneously crushing and catchy that you'll have no problem with flipping the tape over and over to pick 'em out.

'Cloches Fendues' rattles along with a ragged groove like a never-quite-healed scar, while 'Ammoniac' takes a more dynamic approach, switching tempo between a punked-up stomp and a sludgy crawl. There's no way to appropriately describe just how fucking hard these tracks hit, you really need to just hit play, stick your head between your speakers and prepare to bang it.

The sludge staples of feedback and samples that eventually become 'Suaire' give no indication of the true horror to be found in the track proper. If when things really begin to swing you're not thoroughly creeped out, then you probably had the sort of childhood that would make Francis Dolarhyde weep. After the mental-asylum-in-the-bowels-of-hell build-up to final track 'Lucifour', you'd be forgiven for fearing one last unlistenable noise assault designed to leave you truly traumatised, but the multitude of Wizard-worshipping riffs ensure Poisse ends on neck-wreckingly groovy high.

While there seems to be a new sludge band cropping up every day, very few of them possess the true spirit of the genre quite like Fange. Encrusted in filth, awash in feedback, full of hatred; this is music to seethe to.

Fange on Facebook | Bandcamp

Old Skin - :consume:

I've written before about Manchester's Old Skin, back when they had their two-track demo going around about a year ago. When they followed that up with a more rounded, experimental sound on the Mære 7" soon after, I remarked that the UK's hardcore scene was witnessing the birth of something special.
With the release of :consume:, another two-track teaser CD, they continue to build upon that early promise.

First off, the band have chosen an unusual method of releasing this latest concise burst of vehemence, choosing to make it available as both a digital download and extremely limited CD for just one week. At midnight GMT on 1/6/14 it will be taken down, and completely unavailable save for being shared among those lucky enough to have been paying attention.

While the whole 'mysterious limited release' thing has been around for a while, it's been mainly due to deliberately small pressings or complete lack of promotion. By contrast, :consume: has garnered quite a bit of attention, and rightfully so.

Stripping away the overly-experimental flourishes of their last release, we are left with two bare bones tracks that tear past in a mere 6 minutes. 'Swordcharmer' alternates between high-register off-kilter riffage and muscular chugging passages, with some frantic rhythms courtesy of drummer Dan Watson, while 'Snakeswallower' doesn't fuck with that formula too much, but with some seriously unhinged fleet-fingered fretwork from guitarist Joe Clayton. Guaranteed to have heads either spinning or banging, you'll be hitting the replay button either way.

You have 6 hours left from the time of publication of this post to snag these tracks, and I can't recommend that you do highly enough. The band themselves note "This release ends a period of time we are extremely proud of and grateful for, and has given us the momentum to write our first LP, to be recorded in December 2014."
If they continue to mine the same furious vein as they have thus far, the full-length is sure to be absolutely incredible. Don't sleep; consume.

Old Skin on Facebook | Bandcamp

Of Spire & Throne - Toll Of The Wound

Edinburgh's masters of misery Of Spire & Throne satisfy my craving for tectonic heaviness in a way few other bands can. Their devastating dirges have had me swaying perilously close to collapse the couple of times I've caught them live, and their latest release Toll Of The Wound captures their particularly intense strain of doom perfectly.

The disjointed martial rhythm of the opening track can scarcely prepare you for what's to come, as 'Legacy' erupts in a bludgeoning riff, soon joined by guitarist/vocalist Ali Lauder's subterranean, subhuman roar. The cumulative effect is genuinely disturbing, sending a shiver up your spine before crumbling it into dust, as the band alternate between short sharp shocks and guitar-strangling sludgier sections.

There's not a moment of relief to be found, and even the introductory percussive atmospherics of following track 'Tower Of Glass' will set you on edge, dreading what could be coming next with every cymbal tap. This sense of unease continues throughout, as the band never quite bring the track to any kind of conclusion, with Lauder and bassist Matt Davies seeming more content to meander malevolently around Graham Stewart's brilliantly restrained drumming. The looser structure of this track is no bad thing, but a comfortable listen it is not.

Sure to be one of the few releases this year truly worthy of the word crushing, this release is currently available on both CD and tape via the US-based Broken Limbs Records, with a vinyl release to follow soon. For UK folks, the band themselves have copies available via their bandcamp.

Check out my full unedited review of this release at Echoes & Dust...

Of Spire & Throne on Facebook | Bandcamp