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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Sludge: Fistula - "Northern Aggression"

Jesus jumped-up Christ, where do I start? Cleveland's sludge-thrash royals Fistula have strung together (strung out?) a catalog of violent, unapologetic releases oozing utter scorn for all things ridiculously mainstream and vanilla. Sunday is the day of rest? Well, Fistula are thrust into today's Sunday Sludge streetlight to issue a fat fucking middle finger with Northern Aggression, a seven-track skull-fuck that's certain to satiate their loyals and frighten everyone else into submission.

This nineteen-minute smoker is to-the-point and unrelenting, using every second to provide sharp contrast to a metal countryside fraught with caution. Fistula unflinchingly burn through convention on equal parts thrash, sludge, and narcissism with diatribes on drug use, hopelessness, and an embrace of sucking stones on the other side of the tracks. Fistula aren't trying to make you feel good. Hell, they're not even trying to make themselves feel good. But they won't let anyone ignore the ugliness unfolding in the backyard.

Short of a Cheech and Chong audio sample, there's nothing lighthearted presented on Northern Aggression. Screeching, jarring feedback introduces more than half these tracks, while the dense sludge filth can hardly remain safe from murky, uptempo brutality. The belly-up thrash of Sobriety is Overrated provides only a glory-hole glimpse of what lies ahead, leading into loosened-string creepiness on The Fang. Low-flung dirt clods marry Corey Bing's chiding vocals, leaving listeners unsure of whether the music or lyrics remain the band's more abrasive element.

Fistula find a groove on Black Sunday and The Spider, both drenched with thick rhythm and drowned in torrid bass threads. Brief and in full-embrace of waking up in puddles, the black-noise thrash provides an incredibly refreshing juxtapose to the matted stompers we've come to expect on these autumn Sundays. Harmful Situation's assertion of "This is our world, you fuckin' get what you get" sounds more honest than anything you've heard in these weeks leading up to election day. There's a swing-state campaign slogan, eh? Put Fistula in office and at least they won't lie and tell you things will get better.

You'll imagine the choppy, mid-tempo Light Bulb Smoker to be the disc's comfort zone, finding middle ground between push and relent. Well, the track builds to a slick drag of your sorry ass through a thicket of thorny spurs, perfectly balancing the ups and downs, the quick to the slow. Fuck, man... You're not even being dragged through the mud anymore. You've been dragged into a bloody fucking murder mess, mid-stroke. Molting and re-emerging a sludge-metal titan, the slow burning sample accompaniments craft the album's highlight, and Fistula again assert their dominance over Midwest metal malevolence.

Aggression, as the album's title suggests, oozes through every moment of this gritty gnasher. Hit the e-brake all you want, but Fistula's in full control. The plod balances the shred, and the fury lines every note with napalm. The tempo shifts may suggest a bi-polar, manic, borderline personality glitch, but anyone familiar with this band will hardly raise a red flag. That sleeping giant you poked with a stick never woke up. Instead, Fistula again showed up with no warning. Your skin is bubbling, your left eye is gone, and you're drooling as you sift through the soil looking for loose teeth. Oh, stop it. You're embarrassing yourself.

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