French noise-metal band Fange have been around since 2013, founded by Benjamin Moreau of the occult/stoner doom band Huata. On their hard-to-find early EPs and debut album, 2016’s Purge, they combined clanging noise-rock with gut-churning Swedish-style death metal riffs and pounding drums from Boris Louvet, as if trying to find a middle ground between Entombed and Unsane. Three members — Moreau, Matthias Jungbluth, and Jean-Baptiste Lévêque — contributed vocals and/or electronic noise. The 2017 Pourrissoir EP kept the chugging, downtuned riffs and rhythmic punishment, but upped the noise quotient until it was an open question whether they even wanted you to listen to their songs all the way through, or give up in terror/disgust.

On their second full-length, 2019’s Punir, Louvet and Lévêque were gone, replaced by bassist/vocalist Antoine Perron and drummer Alexandre Jadi. The music was still sludgy metal, but the harsh electronics had been sequestered in discrete two-minute tracks between the songs proper, turning them into more of a cross between, say, Dismember and an old-school throb-and-clang outfit like Treponem Pal.

Well, Fange are back again, with Pudeur, and they’ve dumped another drummer. On this record, they’re stripped down to the trio of Moreau, Jungbluth, and Perron, with all the rhythm provided by a machine which has been programmed to sound as much as possible like whatever Godflesh used on Streetcleaner. It’s a monotonous pummel, keeping strict time and allowing the other three to roar and clang and erupt in all directions. The industrial/noise tracks, like “À Tombeaux Ouverts,” have a concussive quality; the beats hit like depth charges. Jungbluth’s vocals are a hoarse, throat-shredding scream not unlike Chris Connelly (Ministry/Revolting Cocks) pushed through a malfunctioning intercom.

The album’s longest track, “Génuflexion,” is the album’s centerpiece; starting out as an early-Swans-style slow beating, it speeds up at the halfway mark, going full Entombed for a minute or so before becoming an unholy blend of sludge, death metal and high-pitched dentist’s-drill tones. That’s followed by “Croix de Paille,” which is a fast, aggressive track that still goes through a surprising number of subtle shifts in under five minutes, with the drum machine sounding remarkably like a live drummer at times — specifically, it sounds like Dave Grohl on the self-titled Killing Joke album from 2003.

Sonically, this is the most dense and punishing Fange album to date. It’s mixed into a huge, chugging throb, as though you’re sitting in the back of a panel truck while the driver cranks it on the stereo in the cabin. Listening to it is almost a claustrophobic experience, sapping any possible catharsis their ordinarily massive riffs might provide. It’s probably not the best music to listen to while confined to quarters, as it’s only going to make that confinement feel even more extreme, like you’re not just locked in your apartment, but inside your own skull as it slowly shrinks, compressing around your anguished brain. But maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for right now…

Phil Freeman

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