I’m sure every person that reviews albums on this site has their own certain process for doing so, be it staring off into space, getting stoned or just initially drawing comparisons to other bands to help build off of. Fister’s new release, simply titled IV, forced me to reinvent the wheel of how I compose reviews for CVLT Nation. Because, well, this isn’t your mother’s Doom Metal. Being able to dissect a ten minute voyage of speaker-crushing, earth-sundering riffs isn’t the hardest thing in the world, at least for me. But what about when the album itself is just one long song, with a length of forty-five minutes? So yeah, this one was a bit of a challenge.
Fister start IV off with a bombardment of crushing riffs and slow paced drums, while otherworldly screaming coats the surface. The opening portion itself made me seriously uncomfortable and anxious as it started out, like I was drawing a piece of broken glass slowly and delicately across my wrist. Eager to take the initial plunge into my veins, Fister teased me with their abrasive take on Doom Metal. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle their sonic cock-teasing any more, Fister broke down their walls and went into a super Neurosis Times of Grace-era style passage, with what could be described as a tribal musical ritual to the night, and building back up into a crescendo of sheer destructive volume that finally left me utterly transfixed with this release. The idea of not knowing what they had in store for me left a hollow feeling of dread and anxiety as to what was to follow.
This is one hell of a complex ride. Even though this is a Doom record, written by one of the underground scene’s rising stars of this genre, IV isn’t a easy record to digest upon the first listen. It takes time and patience. A mindset and a way of looking at the world, almost like one is trying to solve a rather complicated puzzle. But for your patience, there is most certainly a reward to be found within this album. Moments of heavy guitar hooks and dark, abstract noise that are filled with visions of decaying beauty, matched in turn with the down-tempo, sheer colossal wall of sound that Fister have been known to summon.
Even the use of noise and samples serve a purpose that truly illustrates just how foreboding the atmosphere contained within IV is. When skipped ahead or listen to in separate parts, these moments might even sound deceptively tranquil and out of place. But when played straight through and assembled with their doom-ridden guitars and funeral-paced drums, they actually serve to highlight and enhance the magnitude of sound and dark emotion that Fister conjures forth. As the album closes out in a soft, almost ghost-like melody that crawls over your skin before they drop back in with their tremendous, trademarked heaviness, like one last shot of smack before going stone-cold sober. The moments of piercing insight and quite are few and far between, but work so damn well once you see big picture that is this album. Which resulted in me doing some heavy duty reflecting of the journey I had just participated in once this release wrapped up. IV ends up straddling the fence between beauty and bleakness, which actually pretty much sums up this record as a whole.
My best piece of advice for those lacking the patience in regards to wrapping their head around IV is to just make it to the twenty-five minute mark of this album. With a slowed-down pace and almost peaceful guitar melody, Fister lulls you to sleep before finally, almost as a grand statement, they remove their funeral shroud and slide back into a destructive cacophony. It’s at this point where all the anger and rage that they have built up bears fruition in a staggering dirge of massive guitars filled and driven by pained vocals and planet-shattering drums.
This isn’t a release that you put on while doing chores around the house or to entertain guests. One needs to be alone with this beast, with your headphones plugged in and the volume cranked up. There really is no other way to drop oneself fully into this album other than that method. Reflect on some past mistakes or betrayal. Maybe revisit some regretful moments over this record’s duration. Bask in its simple, yet insanely complex and layered song structure while fighting the urge to drink a cup of bleach or asphyxiate yourself. Let this one wash over you and do not, under any circumstance, fight the urge to turn this album off. Without a doubt, IV is an fantastic take on the doom sound, showcasing Fister’s grand vision of tormenting their listeners and leveling city blocks.
Banner Artwork by Michele El Lello Carnielli