Fister – Decade of Depression (Listenable Records, 27 September 2019)
Hey, have you heard? St. Louisan grimy doomlords Fister are celebrating their first decade of existence!
Well, maybe “celebrating” is not the correct word — taking a cue from the Slayer live album Decade of Aggression, the band has assembled an LP filled with covers paying tribute to some of their main influences, entitled Decade of Depression.
Here at VOS we’ve been huge fans of this trio for the better part of that decade — ever since a joint tour with The Lion’s Daughter led to a stop here in Pittsburgh back in the summer of 2013, which was completely mind-blowing to those few of us in attendance. From then on, we’ve tried to make it a point to spread the good word anytime there is new Fister material with which to desecrate one’s ears.
It’s been a little over a month since Decade of Depression hit the streets, but for those who may have been sleeping on this, kindly do yourselves a favor and direct your attention this way…!
While some bands may approach a cover or tribute album as “here’s a bunch of songs we like — what fun it would be to record our own version of all these,” this album was crafted with much thought and attention to detail. Beyond just picking random songs by bands these guys are fans of, these were selected purposefully. For example, while of course there would be a Slayer song just based on the album title alone, they took the time to narrow it down to what would fit their own MO best: tonally, it would make sense to gravitate towards the South of Heaven record, and in fact they did state that they “could’ve picked any song” from that album, “this song just seemed to fit.” As you might expect, this version of the track is slowed down and muddied up a bit — a common theme throughout this compilation — but those riffs are captured in a way where it’s unmistakably still a Slayer song.
The Darkthrone selection (“Too Old Too Cold”), on the other hand, hardly deviates from the tempo of the original; among the fastest points on this record and probably one of the more up-tempo performances throughout the Fister discography, nevertheless the guys manage their own doomy spin on this one. The same could be said for Hellhammer‘s “Reaper” and Pungent Stench‘s “And Only Hunger Remains” — each bears a strong resemblance to the original version while enhancing the grittiness and sludginess factors in each case.
On the subject of similarity to the original, in an even stranger twist, the guys hammered out a re-recording of one of their OWN tunes: “The Failure” which had originally appeared on their 2016 split with Dopethrone — which had been released digitally only, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to etch a new rendition onto vinyl.
Truly one of the highlights of the record is the near-note-perfect recreation of “How the Gods Kill” (originally by Danzig), with the part of Glenn here performed by vocalist Eva Rose from Chrch. The clean parts are as lovely as the growled parts are nasty — this guest appearance really elevates the whole recording. Apparently the collaboration grew out of conversations during the two bands’ tours together following the split record they put together a couple years back.
Finally, it would be remiss not to point out another major highlight, coming back to the creativity with which this album was sequenced. The record opens with an instrumental introduction — the theme music from City of the Living Dead (as composed by Fabio Frizzi), which winds down to the solemn tolling of funerary bells… naturally segueing directly into an amazingly doomy reimagining of the Metallica classic “For Whom the Bells Toll.”
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