"The music scene is crazy / Bands start up each and every day," as Stephen Malkmus once put it. That was back in '94, and it's only gotten crazier since. As anyone who's started one of those daily bands knows, the competition makes it difficult to get noticed.

It'd make sense for metal bands to rely on EPs, singles, and other short-format releases more heavily when they're getting off the ground for this reason. Albums offer greater artistic possibilities, but they're also bigger investments for listeners. It's much easier to get someone to commit to listening to a song or two, and it'd be interesting to see what weirdo underground metal bands would do if they had a powerful incentive to focus on songcraft. This approach seems to be working out pretty well for Bölzer.

With some luck, it will work well for Nashville's Forest of Tygers too. This husband-and-wife duo's debut EP Bruises does exactly what a debut release should: it makes sure you remember their name in the most economical space possible. At just over 17 minutes, it wastes no time — of its four tracks, only three cross the 3-minute threshold.

As Forest of Tygers' lengthy Facebook 'influences' list suggests, the band packs a lot of components into this snug space. The way stern black metal jockeys for position with noisy, choppy hardcore reminds me of the first Tombs EP, especially when both yield before an earnest rock chord progression. Its jittery rhythmic feel and excellent song-to-song continuity remind of a less heralded band — Britain's Beecher, whose restless but sneakily catchy 2005 album This Elegy, His Autopsy I regard as a minor classic.

Forest of Tygers have apparently been around since 2011, but there's no backlog of old material here — it's a concise statement of identity. This suggests that they have not only chops, songwriting skills, and the wherewithal to manage a decent production unassisted, but also patience and the ability to self-edit. Count me in for whatever they do next.

Bruises will be out on April 29. You can preorder it on cassette via Primitive Violence and on CD via the band themselves. The band will be on tour in North America in the early summer, but the dates are still TBA.

— Doug Moore


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