Privatio populi. — Although the specialized machinery driving predatorial adaptation exists in direct interaction with its prey this guarantees no certain lasting harmony within the graces of their greater environment. Should one species outstrip the birth rate of another by demented hunger alone there are checks and balances which generationally debilitate any overfed overpopulated state wherein starvation begets cannibalism begets disease etc. In truth this sort of cull is only one facet of causation in the history of mammalian extinction which typically, and more thoroughly arrives by way of a drastic environmental shift well outside of either party’s addressal. Today the symptoms of a fundamental collapse of environs in action creates little more than a nervous sweat upon the glistening, fattened cheeks of this final human generation who remain willfully oblivious to the signs of coming extinction. With the stupor of gluttony abounding, the final necessary adaptation will never come as quick as our impending doom. Blade, wrist and shoulder deep into their first decade as a band Rennes, France-based quartet Fange tear open the belly of their new beast on ‘Privation‘, a fourth proper full-length release and one which completes a distinct stylistic transformation roughly three years in the making. Now sporting a decidedly evolved form of deathly industrial post-metal these folks read as unleashed yet calculated in their collective grappling of moodiest atmospheric dredge rather than the ominous, maximal brutality of the past. Still over the top, still cut from diseased flesh with rusted instruments, we witness the band thriving within these far more accessible adaptations presented.
Fange formed circa 2013 generally lead by main songwriter, guitarist, noisesmith and now beatmaker Benjamin Moreau who was best known for his work with Huata at the time. The early years of the band focused on a unique permutation of death metal influenced sludge metal with some industrial/noise-tinged ideas spawning out of the periphery into an essential element of their early sound. Though they’d been compared to everything from Celeste to Primitive Man over the years their combination of harsh sludge metal and HM-2 driven death metal propulsion fell off the plate after a few full-lengths in that style when ‘Puduer‘ released in 2020, a zealous industrial death/sludge metal album that’d taken a few leaps toward the logical conclusion beyond ‘Punir‘ (2019), an album I’d enjoyed and reviewed favorably when it’d released. Though the death metal guitar riffs and sludged-at sound were still a key part of their attack the hi-fi boost and freshened palette offered by programmed drums actually enhanced the downtrodden yet maximal/exaggerative approach of the band. This eventually moved their gig spiritually closer to something like post-’94 Godflesh or perhaps the more atmospheric side of Valborg but nothing exactly that chill up front. They’d still been a very loud, clobbering hand of doom on the two EPs beyond ‘Puduer‘ compared to what we find on ‘Privation‘ today. There is some deeper precedence to be scoured from their discography but this latest album is straight-up something different while still appearing along the same moody spiritus.
In practical terms the big change since 2021 seems to be the addition of second guitarist Titouan le Gal, who you might recognize from his progressive black metal project Epectase, alongside a focus upon more varied vocal expression in heightened layers which speaks more to the Author & Punisher spectrum of post-Godflesh extreme industrial metal ideals in terms of rhythmic cinema. The lead guitar track honors a strange place between accessible metal and underground surrealism and the vocals certainly follow without losing their gritty, shouted aggro-industrial sludge metal appeal. The fidelity of this recording creates a massive, nearly overblown space for the band to create within (by way of engineer/mixing per Cyrille Gachet and mastering from Alan Douches), it ends up being a medium suited for an industrial metal record which at times believably bases its rhythms in admittedly diluted death metal grooves and post-metal’s more cinematically reaching side. This could easily will itself into a delirious puddle of alt-metal nox but we get a series of tuneful, dystopic industrial metal songs regardless of where the greater description could potentially swerve.
While I was ready to bolt as soon as I ran into the first two pieces, “À La Racine / Sang-Vinaigre“, in preview the bold strokes applied to this style did not read to me as cheesily accessible but instead the biggest possible outcome as Fange moves fully away from the crowded, noisome harassment of their transitional ‘Puduer‘ era unto something a bit more stadium-sized in scope. Those first two pieces provide the appropriate litmus for interest but they do not readily disclose the full spectrum available to this work. The best traits of Fange have not escaped their work between the guts-twisting aesthetic, violent performances and a bolder-than-thou approach to modern heaviness but the spectacle of this record sits in its emotionally charged tone and lyrics (all en Français of course) which removes it from extreme metal appeal almost outright. The chunking wrench n’ grooves of “Les Crocs Limés” might twist your arm in the other direction for a moment but by the time we hit “Né Pour Trahir” and its sprite-like guest vocals from Cindy Sanchez (Lisieux) the line has been crossed into that electro-alternative metal headspace for the sake of introducing some darkwave-esque appeal and no doubt many will shove off of the record at that point. I am a bit less disturbed by this as I found the piece memorable as closure for a fairly consistent in tone Side A.
The second half of the album is suggested as more indicative of the future, a hybrid concoction of these elements which pulls a bit of a switcheroo on the last three pieces. While it might seem like the band are raring to feed into their heavier side on standout song “Portes D’Ivoire” they soon break away from the sprawling death metal aggression which kicks things off ’til the sleepier, surreal lilt of the song reveals itself alongside additional vocals from Cédric Toufouti of moderne gothic/doom metal group Hangman’s Chair. From my point of view this dynamic has already become redundant within the greater listening experience, the booming spectacle of it all dulling the senses and at that point we can still recognize the core extremism of the folks who put out ‘Punir‘ several years ago. Though this is a much more accessible, modern metal type of record which I’d not expected from Fange that doesn’t meant they’ve made a go of it without any tact or typified shit in mind. If we can refocus expectations upon an especially heavy industrial sludge metal style this record should feel like something new and particularly intense for that sort of crowd. I’m not sure that this record is my “thing” in the sense that I need to jump into more than one or two records in this style per year, but I did appreciate ‘Privation‘ for what it is because I’d known exactly where they were coming from and it makes sense how the band has evolved over the years. A moderately high recommendation.
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