Fulgora Strategem 01When sitting down to write this review, I managed to confuse where Fulgora gets their namesake from before looking it up. For reasons that may or may not include an increasingly counterproductive sleep schedule, writer’s block, and somehow still being regularly keelhauled for the Alestorm incidents of 2014 (no, I don’t regret it, and yes, I’m still right) I thought these Missouri misery dealers were named after Killer Instinct’s personification of cyborg murder Fulgore instead of the female Ancient Greek personification of lightning, Fulgora. So while I’m tragically not getting my robot murder musical, I am getting some death-grind, which is something I’m always up for. As they say, you win some, you lose some. Keep that cliché in mind, because it oh-so-conveniently describes Strategem in a single sentence.

Fulgora have got something good going on from a purely stylistic standpoint. They emphasize the silent “core” in death-grind with a focus on bringing the hammer down with slamming riffs that recall Hatebreed and Dying Fetus in equal measure, due in no small part to guitarist/vocalist B.L. LaMew’s similarities to Jamey Jasta. This isn’t to suggest a dearth of death or grind elements here, nor invoke the dreaded “deathcore” label. I will say that the grind here recalls Pig Destroyer’s groovy style as opposed to From Enslavement to Obliteration though, furthering the hardcore influenced nature of Fulgora’s sound.

“Splinter” is the most successful implementation of all of the above, bringing in some traces of modern Decapitated and large helpings of Misery Index and the last two Pig Destroyer records replete with those crunchy Hatebreed/Dying Fetus beatdowns. It’s decent stuff, and the rest of Strategem tends to follow suit. So where does the “lose some” come into play? Well, the songs are consistently intense, but not overly memorable. For instance, I can tell you that the ending of “Artifice” has the closest thing we’ll ever hear to a Hatebreed and Dying Fetus collaboration in its final quarter, but I couldn’t remember the riffs involved more than a minute after hearing it. This is the stuff of okay records, not great ones.

Fulgora Strategem 02

Decent but unmemorable music comprises the entirety of Strategem and gives it a more stylistic than substantial appeal. It’s fine while it’s on if you have a hankering for death-grind, but I’d sooner throw on Misery Index, Circle of Dead Children, or Nausea for my fix if given the choice. Those bands just write more memorable material that begs to be replayed. While Adam Jarvis’ drumming is up to his usual standard of jaw-dropping speed and skill, his performance doesn’t touch his brilliance on The Killing Gods, and the lesser songwriting here further drives that home. There’s also a scant seven tracks present, but two of them are pointless (intro and interlude), leaving five actual songs that are nigh-on interchangeable. The line between “Crutch” and “Meridian” is so blurred that I had to watch my media player to determine where one ended and the other began.

After many spins of Strategem, I’ve come to the conclusion that Fulgora suffers from Opening Band Syndrome. It’s not objectionable stuff and is good enough while it’s playing, but listening to one of the genre’s heavy hitters after Strategem makes Fulgora’s songwriting shortcomings all the more apparent and repeat listens much less desirable. The production isn’t so great either, as John Jarvis’ bass is basically inaudible and Adam Jarvis’ drum sound leaves a lot to be desired. He’s a great drummer, and giving him a weak kick and an off-putting snare don’t do his stellar playing any favors. I’ll keep an eye out for whatever Fulgora does in the future and if you’re into death-grind you should too, but for now they won’t be blowing your mind or making your Top Ten for the year.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3 CBR
Label: Housecore Records
Website: Facebook.com/Fulgora
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 2015.03.24

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    The soundtrack to the new Killer Instinct by Mick Gordon is fucking awesome, though.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Definitely agree on the soundtrack, I actually think they did a pretty good job on that game overall.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I haven’t even played the game! I don’t have an XBONE. I hope it comes out on PC eventually.

  • Lasse Momme

    Having never really been much of a Grindcore or Deathgrind fan, this doesn’t quite hit home with me and most Grind simply doesn’t. I will say however, that Theories’s “Regression” which launched this month as well is probably the first time I’ve truly found the genre enjoyable, and then some. That record is amazing and I think I’ve started appreciating some of the aspects of grind through it. The general sense of economy, when it comes to song and album length, the minimalistic attitude towards the dressing up of said songs, and the outright obnoxious and snarling aggression and vitriol, of which I’ve found my go to genre Thrash so woefully lacking for the better part of two decades.

    I think an argument could be made that Grind is the thrash metal of this era, in the sense that they, much like the original wave of thrash focus on bringing their message of brutality across through the riffwork, whereas thrash very much seems to have become a much more formulaeic genre, hence why the scene seems to have stagnated so much.

  • Rob

    I kind of dig the vocal style, it’s an interesting departure from the standard. And points for the video just basically being clips from The Holy Mountain.

  • Thatguy

    I don’t want to defend this album – I don’t care for the embedded track at all, but, Diabolis, you risk perpetuating what is becoming an AMG cliche by writing that the bass is ‘basically inaudible’. I can hear it just fine. The bass sound is muddy and the part played uninteresting but it is there where bass belongs.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I listened on a few different cans and a set of speakers, but I just really couldn’t make it out for the most part. After reading your comment I went back to the promo, and I’m still just not hearing it, sadly.

      It does seem to be common, and stuff like Metalocalypse and some Metallica albums helped make “no bass in metal” almost a meme, I agree. I assure you I’m not trying to contribute to that though. For what it’s worth, I’ve got some stuff in the pipeline with nicely audible bass though.

      • Thatguy

        Thanks for your reply!

        I don’t want to be a dick about this and we can agree our ears are different – that is actually an important thing to agree about. That the sound of the embedded track is horrible we will both probably agree on though.

  • Mark Z

    I’m kind of fond of this album in a “generic gym music” sort of way, but you’re spot on with the “Opening Band Syndrome” description. It’s just not good enough to stand out above everything else out there.

    Side note, has anyone noticed there seems to be an influx of these bands infusing hardcore elements into death metal (without, obviously, sounding anything like deathcore)? XIbalba’s newest had a very Morbid Angel-esque riffing style, and Harms Way new album had a hefty death metal influence as well.