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Fermentor - Continuance

by Mark Machlay at 17 March 2020, 6:13 AM

When I used to play in bands in high school, I knew this friend who was first getting into progressive music and writing song after song on this low-rent guitar tablature program. He would write every song with only the title “Prog” followed by a number indicating the chronological and sequential order in which they were created, ie. “Prog23” followed by “Prog24”. These songs were created by piecing together disparate riffs that were coherent only to him. From those files, he eventually learned to play each guitar part, riff by riff and recorded them. He then hired a drummer to play the crazy, time-shifting, blast beat fueled drum parts he Frankensteined in a drumming program. Sometimes he added a bass part if he could hire a bass player who would be paid in booze alone but often didn’t seem to care if there was any low-end, his guitars were tuned so low it was barely needed. He then added pretty innovative grindcore vocal stylings overtop of all of this. This is his process for every record he makes now.

That was all to say, FERMENTOR sounds exactly like the music my friend makes, minus the innovative vocals and any discernible low end a bass player might provide. Whenever I get see that a band has only a guitarist and drummer, I cringe a little because I only hope that the mix is at least good because the vocals will be unintelligible. There are no vocals so that is a point in their favor but then the music has to stand out and be excellent on its own. However there are a lot of inspired riffs on “Continuance”, the bands first full-length album following the demo “Matanzaa” in 2008 and two Eps in 2011 and 2015. The climbing and falling of the OPETH – inspired riffs around the 1:10 to 1:45 mark on third track “Mechanism” is a testament to guitarist Adam Wolloch’s skill and precision.

The opening of “The Decay of Western Civilization” is shares a sonority and structure with METALLICA’s “The House That Jack Built” bringing up some old memories of when they went soft but quickly drives back into the speed and power of ever changing death and thrash inspired riffs. Their single from the album “Landbridge” sounds similar to METALLICA’s recent output but with a lot more balls, cerebral time changes, dissonant chords and a thunderous galloping riff around the 2:38 mark that the old-timers could never pull out now. Special attention must be paid to the amazing work of drummer Dylan Marks. He is able to pull off some of the most insane rhythmic shifts and keep the duo on track throughout the album that absolutely jaw-dropping. Blistering rolls, breakneck double bass, and blast beats galore are on point and there is never a misplaced hit. It is truly commendable work.

Despite the frenetic, breakneck pace of the changing riffs, rhythms and feels, the duo is tight and precise throughout. The production could be great if they had the low end of a bass player to drag the guitar out of the harsh treble dynamic but what you get is fairly good with the configuration as it is. Unfortunately, most of the tracks blend into one another and it can sound a like a sea of thrash and death metal riffs with seemingly no direction or memorability, not even a solo to be counted. Although, I can see myself putting this on if I simply want to bathe in those genres without the labor of listening to labored vocalists singing half-assed lyrics.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 5
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

1. The Stench
2. Thunderboss
3. Mechanism
4. The Decay of Western Society
5. Seventh Circle
6. Landbridge
7. Cotterpin
8. Stage V
9. Cut N Shut
10. Project Zeus
Adam Wolloch – Guitars
Dylan Marks - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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