Through sinuous, feces-matted destitution and gory gut-flung body horror a corrosive series of lunges, born of a purest spiteful rage, thunders from the every blood-plowing ritualistic dagger stab as the mountain of Rennes, France sludge-death colossus Fange seeks retribution. Clear as day in terms of intent the third full-length in the evolution of this ruinous quartet is boldly visceral from shoulder-to-shoulder of ‘Punir’, a punishing collapse of noise-addicted sludge metal so extreme that it would reach to the very pits of death (metal) for its weaponry. ‘Punir’ is diabolic in the most indignant sense, a modern torturous disembowelment, expressing as a cruelty-obsessed wrath of the wronged addressed to the wrongdoer. Severely shaking with an all too spiteful focus, this primitive burst of statically charged bludgeon may be less than precise within its destructive bent but the sheer spectacle of its malice births new and interesting forms in the minds of those who would gladly stay to witness the barbarism on hand.
To experience Fange‘s third full-length from start to finish is to witness a gladiator chop down a handful of beasts only to succumb to the claw wounds incurred by his careless bloodlust. There is a warriors death in ‘Punir’ that leaves nothing more than a disturbing splatter of blood and stinking carcass and the unfortunate reality is that the Colosseum will be ready for more the next day. The battle in question is incredible, though, as “Cienturon” through “Opinel” provide a richly dark, clotted hulk that carries the record into its experimental, noisome and slightly defeated second half. These tracks resonant with the best of Primitive Man, Coffin Torture, and even a hint of Moss as Fange dip their toes an inch deeper into the death metal space. Consider the suffocating death of Slugathor and Disbelief for reference but Fange generally lean towards classic Swedish death/crust influences considering their stylistic arc from ‘Purge’ (2016) onward. The front-loaded feeling of the record definitely makes a stunning, heavy first impression and showcases a truly enormous sound engineered/mastered by the appropriate pairing of Cyrille Gachet (Year of No Light, Chaos Echœs, Huata etc.) and the indomitable Brad Boatright both of which understood the need for an overblown sludge sound that’d gel with the harsher noise experimentation that gilds the second half of the album.
The watery electro-buzzing noise of “Opinel” is compelling in its Godflesh-esque feel and no doubt guitarist Ben Moreau, also of Huata, has a good sense of what might add atmosphere to the vibe of Fange though the beat clashes with the d-beaten death plunge of “Il Reconnaîtra Les Siens”. It doesn’t ruin the moment but creates a surreal juxtaposition that is both fresh and befuddling with further listens. “Maintien De L’Ordre” fits much better as it functions as a more seamless harsh noise intro to the closing track, which feels like a step back towards the previous album with its incorporation of noise into the track itself. This incorporation of ‘noise’ is both the most interesting differentiation for ‘Punir’ and the most confounding addendum for my own taste as I was most excited for their punkish death/sludge metal slabs in the long run.
There is a slight Celeste-like edge here beyond the Nihilistic body-dragging that begins to define Fange and I think that, plus the enormous sound of the record, will win over more folks than not. As such I can give moderately high recommendation of ‘Punir’, it is a fine death-and-noise injected blast of modern sludge that serves as yet another positive step towards total darkness for the project. For preview I’d suggest the two songs that stood out most to my ears are “Il Reconnaîtra Les Siens” and the opener “Cienturon”, keeping in mind my tastes lean towards the death metal spectrum slightly more.
Disavowing all horizons. 3.75/5.0
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