True to its title, the mighty blackened hardcore and beyond duo Forest of Tygers‘ first offering Bruises hits you like a hard right cross. Guitarist/vocalist Jim Valosik’s screams pierce the first moments of the opener and title track, heralding the arrival of some seriously pummeling riffs. These aural attacks come from all sides, shifting into a ¾ waltz tempo, like circling and sizing up an opponent. These midtempo sludge hooks will keep your head bobbing and might remind you of ISIS’ early offerings, but exchanging atmospherics for brutality. Alright, maybe a little bit of atmospherics, like the intro to the next track, “As Flakes of Ash,” where a guitar is briefly, delicately strummed before the assault begins once more, guitars alternating between shredding and tapping while Rachel Valosik slams her drums like they owe her money. Both tracks two and three, “Tiger Stripe,” open with delightfully creepy samples which only serve to build anticipation until FOT deliver with some meaty riffs. “Tiger Stripe” gives us stop-and-go riff fare until jumping full on into some tasty black metal, Mr. Valosik’s throaty shouts piercing the air while Mrs. Valosik blastbeats to make their blackened hardcore compatriots Young And In The Way jealous. Yep, they’re married, and it’s awesome.
Fourth, and closing track, “Wet Death,” sees FOT in the last championship round, beleaguered in body, but spirit still aflame. It’s a last gasp of power, wasting no time by opening with a bludgeoning metallic hardcore barrage not unlike some of Trap Them’s better efforts. But after the initial onslaught, the fanfare dies down to a riff free of distortion, but fleetingly, like one huge inhale before giving it your last.
This first offering is teeming with power. The sound is rich and full, but the breathing room between full on and soft (well, mezzo-forte at least) gives the a dynamic feel that sets them apart. Did I mention the packaging yet? Courtesy of Primitive Violence Records with some help from the lovely and talented ladies of Shroud Eater, their first limited EP package came in the form of a cassette, some buttons, a patch, a sticker and a goddamn KNIFE. If there’s still any left, pick one up, listen to the cassette, and get in the mood to stab some posers*.