If you’re reading this, you are no doubt going to be experiencing one of the most startling and exciting metal records of the year, with Swiss group Convulsif managing to unleash palettes of sound that many of us will not have encountered or experienced before. Combining gritty sludge with post-metal might not be something too far from the norm, but throw in jazzy elements, as well as a shit ton of abrasive noise and you’re onto a winner.
The artist’s first single “Feed my spirit side by side” hooked me, despite being a very short track. The frenetic post-metal grooves like crazy, building from choppy bass grooves and drums surrounded by distorted violin feedback, to a fun and fast-paced track that got me excited for what other soundscapes the band could create. Yes, you got that right; distorted violin, not guitar. The band want to show you exactly how evil these instruments can be.
Convulsif certainly reward that intrigue with an album that expands your mind to new sounds, whilst also being great fun to listen to. Their latest single “Buried Between one” opens up the record, giving you a real taste of what to expect, with squealing feedback layered on top of powerful drums that again match nicely with the growling bass. No vocals are needed for this or any tracks, with the violin and multiple layers providing the guiding hand for this and their other songs. As the track progresses, the layers fit closer together, creating a furor by the end of the track that leaves you breathless. Clarinets permeate the mix at a lower level with low bass tones giving the foundations of the track a melancholic feel before climaxing at the end in a free jazz style, squealing and screeching as the rest of the instruments reach boiling point.
The second track certainly stands out for me too, at the beginning taking things right down with the track more ambient drone than experimental metal to begin with. This monster twelve-minute track takes us from these mild lows to some extreme noise later in the track, with the progression organic and smooth from the band. The track is one of those that has the ability to rob you of any semblance of time as it builds incredibly slowly, with the deep bass and soft clarinet helping to send you into something of a fugue state. After building into what seems like a climax, the band switch completely with fast-paced, almost math metal riffs thrown in to really throw the track off its axis and prepare you for the next few songs.
“Surround the arms of revolution” has Convulsif bring out more of their flavour of punchy groove metal, with the bass and drums again working to dish out vigorous meals of distortion. This is certainly the most fun track on the record, and one you can tell the band also had fun making. It is wild and whacky, and certainly worth your time if you want a shorter taste of Convulsif.
The final track rounds up a really surprising discovery for me with more of that excellent bass. The dulcet tones are almost tantric in the early stages of their songs setting one into a state of meditation, something you’ll certainly see in “The axe will break”. These long introductions to their track make the impact of their switches so much more powerful, exactly what happens here.
Is it an accessible record for those on the edges of experimental metal? Maybe not, I think some of the songs can get a bit maddening if you’re not in the right state of mind. Yet when you are, they can be powerful, insightful, and aid creativity. There are a lot of ideas I haven’t heard before, such as the dark use of the clarinet and the much more organic switches in their music, which go a long way to capturing the listener’s attention. Definitely one I’ll be considering in my album of the year list, Convulsif‘s unique take on post-metal and sludge is something I would recommend to all fans of the respective genres, especially those who are tired of guitar-led albums.