Anywhere there’s high levels of violence and poverty, sludge metal often isn’t far behind. Listed as the Number 4 Murder Capital of America, ahead of Baltimore, Detroit and Compton, St. Louis definitely fits the bill (the suburb of East St. Louis is actually Number 1), and its native sons Fister display plenty of downtrodden aggression on their latest album, No Spirit Within.
With seven tracks clocking in just under 49-minutes, this isn’t a drive-by shooting, either. After a two-minute spaghetti western intro, the brutal beating begins with “Disgraced Possession,” a nearly 10-minute slice of vicious, oozing death doom à la Primitive Man, with a bit of a black-metal twist. “Cazador” takes things even slower with a heavy-hitting Japanese assault à la Coffins or Corrupted for the first two minutes, before settling into a mid-paced groove that could be considered hardcore punk—were it not for the bilious, vomitus black-metal vocals. Around the three-minute mark, it devolves into a series of slow, heavy breakdowns that might lead to permanent spinal damage. Speaking of Japan, the rugged grooves of “I Am Kuru” give me a bit of a Church of Misery vibe.
The 12-minute title track is bleak, gritty and slow moving, before a d-beat drum pattern signals a shift into a blackened hardcore pattern about four minutes in. Once again, it’s only temporary, lasting a minute or so until the downtuned despondency returns.