Perhaps it is because of the highly publicized pollution of Lake Cuyahoga where Akron, Ohio’s Fistula have emerged from, which results in this contaminated, disease-ridden release labeled Vermin Prolificus. On the altar for review this time around is a 7 song release; or more aptly, a late night, intoxicated walk through a bourbon and vomit-filled bog. A caustic mix of fuzzed guitars and bass, interrupted with ear-splitting moments of feedback, that calls forth comparisons to Suppression and some of the now defunct record label Sound Pollution releases. Vermin Prolificus works through a shifting, sludge/crust punk-filled sound, keeping it simple yet addictive enough to continue exploring the album after an initial listen. Fistula have dug out and exposed violent, downtrodden moments of frustration and a sense of hopelessness with this release. The band itself has brought forth songs that range from one and half minute explosions of the pained, nightmarish screams of a Krokodil addict to moments of hyper-slowed-down, lung-crushing bong hits of doom.
“Smoke Cat Hair and Toenails,” the opening track, is a five and a half minute fitting introduction to this band, gradually shifting from mid-tempo hardcore to waves of slowed down, tar-ridden riffs. Around the halfway point of the song, Fistula throw down glimpses of His Hero Is Gone-styled destruction, after which it quickly disintegrates into a funeral march-paced dirge, with the vocals quickly following suit in with pained, drawn out screams. Track five and seven, which are entitled “Upside Down” and “Goat Brothel,” both blast out of the gate from the get go, showing us Fistula’s teeth yet again with their comfort in picking up the pace a bit. There are a number of moments in this album where the outbursts are welcome additions to the creeping, spiraling out sensation that comes with the slower parts. A few listens to this record made me think about how great this band might be to see in the live setting. Even more so that one can smell the beer soaked floorboards, the urine and shit stained bathrooms of whatever dank bar that this band might play at just by listening to this. Which says something about the album itself. Fistula aren’t dressing themselves up to be something they’re not. It’s straightforward and in your face. Those looking for a technical release full of blast beats and insane moments of guitar shredding should move on and keep searching. Fistula are not reigning destruction with speed or technical prowess, but with a dirty sounding attack that borders on a few different styles of underground extreme music. Vermin Prolificus is a direct result of them staying the course at what they do best.
All the tracks mesh well together and have a similar vibe and fit among each other. The mid-tempo portions are well played and constructed, but it’s in their slower stuff where this band really starts to shine through. Their tying in of deliberate, colossus-sized riffs throughout this album adds a much needed atmosphere and density which is sometimes devoid from this style of Crust/Hardcore. An even more sinister element to these songs is the addition of some rather disturbing audio samples regarding drug addiction, overdosing and pain. The audio samples are never overdone or placed awkwardly within the song, but create another side and dimension to the music. A perfect selection of quotes that drag the music further into a hopeless prison within ourselves. The often repeated sample of “The drugs are more important than you” haunts this record and does an amazing job of setting the tone and feeling for Vermin Prolificus.
The title track for the album is easily the highlight of this release. A thirteen minute ride through a landscape devoid of sobriety and morals, replaced with a numb apathy towards society; a fine showcase of what a Doom/Stoner metal band should sound like. Long, drawn out riffs, simple paced drums and a sense of bottoming out feeds this beast. An almost obsessive picking of emotional scabs and wounds permeates this song, enhanced by the previously mentioned audio samples, which play throughout most of its duration. While the more crust and hardcore portions are good on previous tracks, this song is the absolute stand out piece. A well constructed, lurching monstrosity of a song and as such, Fistula should be patting themselves on the back for its creation. Because of this one track, it had me thinking how fantastic this album would sound on vinyl, with its cavernous moments of sound and feedback.
Overall, Vermin Prolificus is a damn good piece of metal/hardcore that straddles a few different styles and has a number of back breaking moments. They seem comfortable working within the established limits of the Doom/Stoner sound, but also manage to offer up something that is done in an original way; which isn’t just relying on noise and repetitive rifts that are the staple of this genre. Their mixing of a more aged crust punk sound compliments the slower portions, which goes over well in the long run. Overall, Fistula have come up with a pretty decent style and approach to this worn path. They never really do anything wrong on this release; in fact, they show an ability to stand out, given some time and luck. Hopefully, this will be a project that will receive some attention, allowing them to take the lessons they’ve learned back into the practice space and fine tune their ideas even further.