Review / Fange – Privation

It might have occurred to you already that life sucks. You might not mean it in a depressive way though; while there’s plenty to enjoy in the spheres of sadboi DSBM, sometimes you just feel the need to burst out of the combined pressure of capitalistic work, vain social obligations and other shitty things about adult life with a corrosive belch of unfiltered rage, and scratch the earth with your bare angry nails burying yourself far below any form of articulate conversation.

Very few bands have succeeded in capturing this violent, “fuck-this-shit” yearning for solitude as well as Fange over the past near-decade. Fange literally translates as “sludge”, and while the quatuor from French Brittany started with a breed of “Harsh Sludge”, they came to fully embrace their love of HM-2 Death Metal with their album Punir, one of the most smothering sounds to come out in 2019. They’re fast becoming a totem of the French metal underground, with moving parts but recognizable brand elements: raspy electronic noise, crushing industrial beats (parting ways with their human drummer in 2020), Morbid Angel/Suffocation-grade riffs, home-drawn visuals featuring gears and bowels, and album titles starting with the most pissed-off “P” sounds one can possibly utter in French:

Purge. Pourrissoir. Punir. Poigne. Putain de bordel de merde (not yet).

With Privation however, Fange are getting a few steps above expectations and affirming a new level of artistic ambition. Its production is sharper, more readable than the previous records, probably in part thanks to the recent addition of guitarist Titouan Le Gal from Epectase and the impulse of their long-time sound engineer Cyrille Gachet. The record has a cleaner sound, a structural addition of melodic coldwaves, and even clean vocals from notable guests: Hangman’s Chair’s Cédric Toufouti, and Cindy Sanchez from Lisieux and Candélabre. But make no mistake, a “cleaner” Fange is no weaker: Privation deploys the full range of tension and brutality they are capable of.

From the very beginning of the aptly-named ‘A La Racine’, one can feel the combined sky-wide scale and colossal weight of the album : the post-industrial atmosphere feels bitter, but remains breathable up until the streetcleaning riffs blow out. Matthias Jungbluth’s voice does not fit any of the established metal vocal canons (death, sludge, black etc.) easily. He screams, utters, grunts, howls like a rabid jackal, and sometimes sings in a clean voice, but always comes off as a human being with faults, fears and anger. The guy feels real, and it almost hurts to hear him expose his guts in the maëlstrom of riffs and industrial drums.

Privation sees Fange at their best to date, retaining their core identity while deploying melodic greatness, reminding of the trailblazing ascension of Hangman’s Chair’s A Loner – although in a much more brutal vein. 2023 may well be the year when Fange oozes out of the French underground to oxidize and contaminate ears and heads everywhere. They certainly contaminated mine.

Privation is out on March 10th via Throatruiner Records and can be ordered here.

Words: Alexandre Mougel

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