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Yes, Fister, There is “No Spirit Within”

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There are two stories that tend to be told in American doom. They both start with a common thread of devastation but diverge when it comes to the moral of the story. Is there careful optimism that one day we will trudge to the end of the sludge, or are we just permanently knee-deep in a nihilistic wasteland? Saint Louis, MO doom bringer Fister has always unapologetically left us face-to-face with the latter, slowly breaking our fragility into bloody shards.

Dropping May 18 on Listenable Records, Fister’s full-length No Spirit Within continues to deliver up heavy hits signature to the tenacious trio. A bit different tale from the usual meditation on man’s relationship with nature, the seven fully-developed tracks offer harsh accounts of when the struggle to remain our perceived dominance meets the heat of delirium. While No Spirit Within is bound to keep Fister fanatics appeased, the album still dabbles into the “something new.” This time, it’s incorporating more rock influences as the collective embrace of our hardcore kid roots continues to bleed across all genres.

As the war drums begin, we await the thaw of the final blow. The journey there is too much the product of psychedelic nightmares to have ever have been anticipated by the unblemished imagination. Plowing forth into a traditionally blackened feat with “Cazador”, D-beat attitudes and shrieky, dungeon-echoed vocals are incorporated before further casting doom anomaly with a chromatic guitar solo. Stepping seamlessly into more Western vibes, warbled samples are layered through an oppressive, recurring riff that eventually rises like warm air.

Just when you’re ready to do enough peyote in the desert to rip open a cactus with your bare hands and chug its nectar, the tables are turned as audacity succumbs to “Heat Death.” Chillier and more atmospheric, the almost optimistic chord progression falls back with a foreboding crunch. The desert adventure leaves the listener under an array of stars, but still suspect of danger lurking in the night. Yet, the true threat seems to be the darkness found in space rock as we are unceremoniously beamed up from our rock and into space. Full and broad, the conclusive beats of “Star Swallower” contextualize how maddeningly small we really are.

Both instrumentally and thematically, No Spirit Within could be used as evidence of how grittier doom units read almost like half-speed powerviolence. The slow slaughter proves to be an ode to beating all that wallows with a battle axe. The recipe for both a powerful live experience and a loyal collection of fans, finding empowerment through senselessness proves to pack a powerful punch. As much as the end of No Spirit Within may leave us wondering if the next Fister record will be a GWAR-style intergalactic battle royale, it is more likely that that the down-to-earth trio will gracefully fall back down with their unrelenting gravitational pull. Having worked with some of the most relevant doom artists of the day — Primitive Man, Dopethrone, Chrch, and so on — Fister is remaining in the forefront by doing what they do and doing it well.

— Jenna DePasquale

No Spirit Within is out May 18th on Listenable Records. Follow Fister on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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