Unpleasant, ugly, vile, and grim with the viciousness of a cinder block to the teeth. That's one way you could encapsulate the skin peeling filth that Akron, OH's Fistula churn out.
Not content to take a break from their last masterstroke Vermin Prolificus, the band is at it again with their latest Destitute demo release. If you're unfamiliar with the workings of Fistula and the opening sentence doesn't somehow summarize what you need to know, Fistula fuse the darkest elements of sludge and hardcore-punk that harkens to the video nasty-era in sound and feel.
If you've still got the fresh, rotting exterior of Vermin Prolificus in your head, if you can still hear the words, “The drugs are more important than you!” in your head, you'll immediately recognize that Fistula bring no quarter to their already ugly sound. Destitute only brings an even more stripped down approach. It's immediately recognizable once the intro quote by Peter Weller from Firstborn gets the ball rolling that the the band need not change their sound. The guitar and bass tones are so thick you can practically see them ooze out of your speakers. And spanning the course of five tracks, there's no mercy.
What is perhaps the most interesting about this album is the way four out of the five tracks here were approached. As per Fistula, four of these are “live” tracks, or tracks that were recorded with all the instruments at once; no overdubs. It's a practice that may be used often, especially by new bands, but isn't often advertised by bands themselves. Some may recall Extortion's recording of their Terminal Cancer EP all on a Yamaha MT3X as being an exceptional piece of rawness in the band's catalog. Destitute serves itself up much the same. The songs have a definite punch that brings out a harsher energy and flow that keep the album feeling more like a live show. As much as bands may strive to capture that live energy on album, this is the best way to do it.
Recording process aside, Fistula they continue, as mentioned earlier, their sludgy hardcore-punk assault. Vermin Prolificus had some very definite division with its sounds, Destitute doesn't section itself so much. There's a heavier focus on the sludgy side of things this time around though. Songs are heavy and trudge more than they charge. The excellent “Morgue Assistant”, my personal favorite song on the album because it calls back glorious video nasties, keeps itself almost fully rooted in the sludge department with punkier aspects to it here and there. “The Big Turnout” goes even heavier, thundering forward with thick stomps and rough edges.
Fistula does pick up the pace with the final track, “The Time We Bought Dope From the Cops”, easily the most hardcore-punk the album goes. Those familiar with the band's history will recognize it as a re-recording from their split with “Radiation Sickness.” The song has also been trimmed by about a minute and a half, but the declarations of nothing remain intact. The piece also contains only one vocal track this time around as opposed to two. Still, the song is killer and a fitting ending to the demo.
Destitute is a solidification of Fistula's sound. It's also an exercise in sludge over hardcore-punk, but never a full abandonment. A more focused piece overall, but also a taste of things to come. Fistula has announced on their Facebook page that they're slated to record another album this year. Sludge may be a slower genre but these guys are turning out recordings faster than most. And Destitute is a killer addition to Fistula's catalog. If you're headed to Roadburn Festival then be sure to catch these guys in the act and pick up a copy of the album from them directly. Otherwise the album is available from PATAC Records.
You can stream the whole demo via CVLT Nation.
And as always, you can find me here.