Faüst Wages a “Tinnitus Inquisition” Against Eardrums (Review)
Faüst's journey to this point hasn’t been a linear one. First, they called themselves Snow Landslide, then they switched to Coldblooded Fish, and then shortened it to CBF. Within that three-name, seven-year span, this Prague-based thrash band released a couple of EPs, a studio LP, and a live LP, all of which showed promise as they worked through the growing pains of finding their sound.
Going by Faüst since 2020, they've now released what should be considered their proper debut album, Tinnitus Inquisition. At a lean 25 minutes, Tinnitus Inquisition finds the Czech quartet—the original CBF trio of guitarist and vocalist Kryštof Eichler, bassist and vocalist Jenda Lapáček, and drummer Honza Šole, plus newly enlisted guitarist Teodor Majerík—playing and writing with confidence for the first time. Their early work, mostly as a crossover act, was encouraging, but it also felt hesitant and unfocused. Their songs felt closer to a good impression than a fully realized personality. Coupled with their brand of absurdist tongue-in-cheek humor both in their lyrics ("Put on a wig and big red nose / What the fuck? You’re running! / I lost you in deep shadows / I didn’t know how you are cunning!") and promotion (their Bandcamp speaks of "3 czech and 1 slovak boys with small penises" playing "dirty bastard thrash metal and smoking weed."), it isn’t (always?) clear how seriously any of this should be taken.
That doesn’t matter, given how much fun this album is. After a short intro track, Faüst come out swinging with the spritely "Curse Eternal." Across a proggy five minutes, the song has multiple memorable riffs, flashy leads, excellent soloing, and plenty of Eichler's tortured shriek that he's spent almost a decade perfecting. His vocals were closer to a petulant teenager at the outset of the band’s career, but somewhere around their solid live record, No Sleep 'til 007, Eichler smartly began leaning into a vocal style closer to someone waking up during surgery.
That intensity carries through to the end of the album, with the songwriting borrowing fellow thrash metal bands old and new. The record acts as a sort of crash course in the genre. At times, Faüst borrows from celebrated bands like Testament, like on "Born to be Sacrificed," which borrowing the snarling riffs and overall menacing tone ("Enemy of the state / Usurper of your fate / Resistance is pointless / Prophecy foretold") of the Bay Area titans. Other times, Faüst borrows from peers like Havok on "Exitus Freefall," with its soaring, flashy leads laid over catchy riffs and no-bullshit songwriting. Overall, this smorgasbord approach works well enough for the Czech thrashers because most of the bands they borrow from are similar enough in their approach.
Tinnitus Inquisition only falters when Faüst’s borrowing overreaches. As such, the record isn't as coherent as it could be. Having one song that uses a bit of the labyrinthine technicality of Revocation ("Frontal Lobotomy," complete with a death-y growl) right next to one that adapts Exodus' blunt force attack ("HK Beatdown"), for example, is a bit jarring because those approaches aren’t analogous; the result sounds like two different bands. Faüst, then, haven't quite found their own brand of thrash yet, but that’s okay. Tinnitus Inquisition is still an entertaining offering, featuring some sharp songwriting, plenty of fireworks, and farcical lyrics like, "Spears and silexes / Traces in snow / Wounds and bruises / Arms hanging low / Two hordes beating each other to death / Flintstoning to their last breath." If you’re still unconvinced, just look at that ridiculous(ly great) cover—that’s reason enough to check this record out.
Tinnitus Inquisition released April 29th, 2022 via Witches Brew.