Though it’s tempting to claim we’ve reached the pinnacle of genre splicing and experimentation, the inherent nature of music makes this process inevitable and ongoing. Music will only become more innovative as more bands create and contort existing genres. Naturally, styles once considered experimental will eventually become staple genres, only to be combined with other genres that experienced the same evolution. So when I see bands like Vaisseau describe their music as “synth doom,” my first reaction is intrigue rather than skepticism. Lo and behold, the band pulls off their seemingly gimmick-prone idea, an increasingly common reality in our modern music landscape.
If you’ll accompany me from Vaisseau’s coastal home in Brest, France inland to Rennes, I’m keen on introducing as many people as possible to Fange‘s similarly unique brand of genre experimentation. The self-described “industrial death” and “harsh sludge” band execute a seamless blend of Swedish, HM-2 driven death metal with the mechanical worlds of industrial music. Hexis might be their only genre peer operating in close to the same sonic space, but even then Fange’s style is markedly different and unique. If Godflesh and Entombed weren’t separated by the North Sea and mainland Europe in the early ’90s, they very well could have collaborated on a project that sounds similar to what Fange have produced with Pudeur.
As the album progresses, it’s amazing not only how seamlessly industrial metal and “Entombed-core” blend together, but also how much sonic variety this synthesis produces. Those familiar with Godflesh’s discography have experienced the various moods the band has explored over the years, ranging from crushing industrial grooves on Streetcleaner to the more atmospheric, melodic moments on albums like Selfless and Hymns that ultimately influenced the evolution of post-metal. Though Fange regularly incorporate elements of traditional industrial and noise music throughout Pudeur, they primarily take cues from both angles of this industrial metal tradition and produce dynamic yet crushing songs in the progress, aided of course by the buzzsaw backbone of Swe-death.
Fange waste no time launching this into motion on “Soleils Vaincus.” The track opens with a core of overdrive-heavy riffs crashing over a stomping drum beat. The marriage of guitar and percussion feels rooted in the traditions of Justin Broadrick’s riffing and drum programming, albeit with a clearly more fluid, organic performance style. This is perhaps more true on “Cafard Céleste,” which offers some of the heaviest riffs on the entire album. Both these tracks feature extensive use of electronics and an industrial flair, whether it’s an unsettling atmosphere or blasts of metallic noise accenting the thundering riffs.
The band’s industrial affinities hardly remain in the shadows, though. “À Tombeaux Ouverts” is a true-blue industrial track that fits in nicely with the band’s signature compositional style. The song’s driving beat feels very much in line with the rest of the album’s track list while still remaining a pure industrial romp through and through. “Génuflexion” brings things back to the more riff-oriented part of the band’s sound, though the track remains steeped in industrial atmospheres and noise through its sludgy, 7-minute dirge.
What comes next is a shining example of Fange’s ability to blend the various aspects of their sound into a winding yet cohesive journey. “Croix De Paille” features industrial elements abound while also featuring one of the most direct death metal passages on all of Pudeur. Complete with a buzzsaw tremolo and galloping d-beat, the track proves how adeptly the band is at performing each facet of their sound, only for an industrial-tinged outro to re-establish their genre-splicing prowess.
The remainder of Pudeur progresses in a similar fashion, which is to say you might anticipate what’s coming but never feel prepared when it arrives. Fange take the seemingly diametric duo of industrial music and Swedish death metal and produce a compositional style that somehow feels as intuitive as it does refreshing. Though I’m not sure which specific genre to credit Fange for dominating this year, make no mistake that Pudeur will remain one of heavy music’s highlight releases long after 2020 concludes.
Pudeur is available now via your digital music/streaming platform of choice. Physical copies are available April 24 via Throatruiner Records.