For my first review, I could have written about one of the many recent big releases, such as the latest albums from Opeth or Neurosis, both of which are undeniably momentous releases. Instead, I decided to go super obscure on everyone and write about a three-piece sludge band from St. Louis, Missouri — with fewer than 7,000 likes on Facebook — because they’ve really been my favorite thing to listen to lately.
I got turned onto this band called Fister recently - specifically their album, Gemini. Before you find yourself wondering if you missed that release, the Gemini full-length is not a new album. It was originally released in 2013 and is the band’s second full-length; Fister has since put out another LP (entitled, IV) in 2015. Although Gemini is an older release, it is still currently relevant because it's about to be released on vinyl for the first time, at the end of this month (October, 2016). This is how it was brought to my attention.
Fister is primarily sludge, but is also for fans of stoner, doom, and — surprise! — black metal. The vocals in particular are cut for black metal fans; they are quite haunting and screechy. The band’s Facebook page listed a few influences and the two that really leaped out at me were Yob and Burning Witch. If you can imagine something between those two sounds, you’ll arrive pretty close to what Fister accomplishes. As for Gemini, most of the songs are very slow or comprised largely of slower segments, with some upbeat glue to hold it all together (and boost your energy levels). Some of what Fister does is simple, but incredibly effective. They do what they do very well. There is also a good bit of diversity on Gemini, as they borrow from quite a few different subgenres throughout the album. This was enough to keep the songs unique and memorable for me. But what all of these tracks have in common is they are all consistently heavy as hell and have a morbidly depressed quality about them — one that really got its hooks in me. I love its darkness.
The opening track, “Antitheist,” immediately grabs you by the throat with a slow, thunderous riff, broken up with dramatic pauses. An agonized scream sings to you about suicide in words that will make your blood run cold — the lyrics for this song are really something to be reckoned with. This beginning is stormy, furious, and full of hate, but the track gradually (over the span of 8+ minutes) unravels into something more tragic than wrathful; the second half of this long, gruesome venture opens up into larger, atmospheric sounds with an underscore of mournful violins. It’s not just a tale of rage and misery, we also hear sorrow and hurt here. Yet, just as we think we’ve settled into a comfortable depression with this new mood, telltale of a farewell, it all crashes back to the beginning, shaking us awake to the horror of what’s to come. This is really a song about suicide. We had a brief reprise towards the end there to say "goodbye," but now back to business. It is truly a portrait of utter despair; the chilling lyrics ending with the statement, “and I don’t care anymore.”
This bleak soundscape only prepares you for the next six tracks, all full of hopelessness in their own ways. The second track, “Suicide Hessian," starts at a galloping mid-pace and has more of a punk vibe to it — something catchy that often gets stuck in my head. But it also descends into slow, tortured brutality. The title track, “Gemini,” features eerie sounds from a piano, an upright bass, and a violin, giving you a new depression — this time with a whimsical flavor, like that of a nightmare. “Permanent Chemical Psychosis” barges in with a very bluesy swing that changes the way your head is bobbing. And then the farewell track, “Invisible Corpse,” begins as straight doom, and is heavy, heavy, heavy.
Overall, Gemini is an agonized piece of work wrought with misery and despair, but it might take patience for some people. It is very serious sludge, so be prepared to commit to the album; the band is not in a hurry to take you on their hellish journey, with only one track on the album clocking in under five minutes (and three clocking in over seven). But if you’re into some seriously dark shit, it’s well worth the time. They kept me entertained the whole way.
Pre-order some absolutely beautiful bundles for Gemini here: Encapsulated Records
Amanda is a stereotypical cat lady with a penchant for death metal. Her idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes coffee, fur, egg sandwiches, and some really loud records. When she isn't tending to her urban farm, she can occasionally be sighted around the east coast traveling for shows and festivals. Her quest for enlightenment and good metal never ends.