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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Fistula - "Vermin Prolificus"

If you expected to pour some coffee and breathe in some crisp morning air on your front porch, you've come to the wrong fucking place. I've said it before: Cleveland's Fistula are never gonna make you feel good. Through various lineups and countless EP's, splits, and full-length albums, these snarling scumfucks have consistently drawn distinct lines between societal classes and never been burdened by things like tact or nuance. Whether its a low, pensive groove or a breakneck pull on your tie as your teeth are beaten in, Fistula's overt violence is ever-present.

On Vermin Prolificus, thirty-five ticks of abrupt tempo shifts and screeching, stabbing guitars canvas larger truths. These seven tracks are less symptomatic of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and more indicative of the human condition's natural response to authoritative bullshit. Nowhere is this more evident than on Pig Funeral, a slow-simmered revolt slung low and hot and brimming with cracked-tooth spite. Rhythms churn and wave a fist in the fat faces of power, evolving toward a blistering close that repeatedly bloodies its knuckles on sharp bone.

For all the vile sludge bubbled underfoot, however, the band is never a hair away from lashing your back with a barbed rod. Spitting back to 2012's Northern Aggression EP, Harmful Situation and Sobriety are slightly reworked, slightly shorter, and seemingly more destructive with this go. And the contempt displayed on Upside Down is a call not just to authority, but to mainstream society as a whole. And the shit-caked trudging tempo is like an added bonus.

But Vermin Prolificus makes its boldest assertions on lengthier exercises. Smoke Cat Hair and Toenails is fuzz-coated sludge marked by violent, screeching pulls. Again, the sounds are absolutely foul and filth-laden. Moments of torrid tension are broken by hard coughs, assisting to uncover grimy truths of contemporary youth. The slugs come slow and poisonous, evoking incredibly dark imagery consistent with the middle finger this album throws in the face of convention. The title track is similarly jarring and unsettling, utilizing drawn-out, splintered extraction via drug-fueled samples. Layers continue to emerge, wounds work deeper, and slow-burning ruminations reveal (somewhat) rational explanations of drug distribution and addiction. We were never promised a sunny day, but Fistula reveal that endless pain has an endless dark solution. These thirteen minutes are the sonic equivalent of picking scabs off your face and kicking your kids. Not unlike a junkie, this track simply can't escape the grips of its own demons.

There's too much going on here to bottom-line it with one summation. Each of the seven tracks on Vermin Prolificus is a bold fucking assertion (especially the album's final moment on Goat Brothel, whew). Short-tempered and fed up, this album is a slowly corroding, synthetic-smoked nightmare flogging us as we scratch for daylight. The screeches and abrasions are the effect here, not the cause. What you're really hearing is yourself, your community, and our society inches away from collapsing under the weight of a fake smile. How much longer you think you can stand it?

For fans of: Angst, piss, pills, scabs, Gummo, malcontent, broken teeth, glass, burnt hair, and whatever the fuck is rotting in your basement.

Pair with: Meth

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