I was completely unfamiliar with Fister when Gogmagogical Records sent me their Violence EP for review; the band name might lead you to believe we’re dealing with some kind of sex dungeon worthy gore/porno-grind, but instead it turns out I’ve been missing the boat on some seriously sinister-sounding sludge. The St. Louis-based trio bring the pain in a way that will be familiar to fans of genre heavyweights such as Eyehategod and Iron Monkey, but also incorporates a knack for oppressive textures and atmospheres of a more esoteric variety that’s decidedly their own.
Fister wisely keeps things short and sweet on Violence; one of the problems inherent to sludge (and metal in general) over the past few years has been bands insisting on stretching out four or five minutes worth of ideas over songs that are two to three times as long, making for a listening experience that has roughly the same effect as washing down a bottle of Ambien with a fifth of Jack. Not so for Fister; songs such as “The An Lushan Rebellion” and “Global Nuclear Annihilation” don’t outstay their welcome, and are surprisingly dynamic in spite of the uniformly leaden tempos. The riffs roll out slowly, but each riff pushes maximum density, eschewing the groove that many sludge bands favor in an effort to pummel and pulverize the listener at nearly every turn.
I mentioned earlier that Fister aren’t afraid to throw different sounds into the mix, and it’s evident throughout Violence that they take some subtle queues from the noise/dark ambient side of extreme music. Whether it be the washes of distorted racket that bubble under the surface of “Megabolide (Return to the Heavens),” the mangled feedback that pops up throughout “Forced Extinction,” or the clean, droning tones of “Trail of Tears” that bleed seamlessly into the debilitating stomp of “Global Nuclear Annihilation,” the band exhibits a willingness to color outside the lines without sacrificing any of their soul-blighting heaviness.
Gogmagogical Records have a winner on their hands with Violence, and they’ve sweetened the pot even further by making the EP available in no less than five different vinyl color schemes with five different covers from five different artists. Basically, it’s a killer EP that also just happens to be a vinyl collector’s wet dream. I salute the band on an excellent release that’s whetted my appetite for the rest of their catalog, and I salute Gogmagogical for putting such obvious care and effort into the physical aspects of Violence while at the same time offering it to fans at a ridiculously affordable price.