This is Fister’s fourth full length release in nearly a decade. A decade that has been peppered with splits to keep the sludge thirsty sated.  The St Louis trio’s last album – 2015’s IV was one crushing 45 minute monolith of metal – no bite size chunks there. No Spirit Within allows other track numbers a look in but the filth, dirt , riffs and bleakness still bludgeons throughout.

Opening with the Morricone stylings of Frozen Scythe there is a fleeting glance of hope. That soon disappears like a lifeboat over the horizon before “Disgrace Possession” drags the listener down into an oily soup of gargantuan Doom riffs and bleak black metal guitar lines.  Kenny Snarzyk’s bass holds a steady course whilst Marcus Newstead spirals off into Quorthon like leads. The pair share vocal duties with Snarzyk taking the lion’s share, and the tortured sounds he emits are enough to make my hair curl – AND I’M BALD!  Kirk Gatterer (what an awesome name for a drummer – Gatterer the Batterer surely) beats “Cazador” into life like a Hortator on a galley. It’s not too long before he forces his hirsute doom slaves into ramming speed as the track bursts into punky life – think Satan’s Wrath – before diving back into crushing sludge.   Newstead’s guitar should offer some relief from the rhythmic barrage but it just injects a hopeless melancholy which crushes my spirit. I love it!  This is the musical equivalent of watching Beaches – but with skull crushing riffs!

Talking of bleak “I am Kuru” is next. If the word rings a bell – as it did with my macabre self – it is a fatal disease caused by eating the infected brain tissue of humans. This was found in folk of Papua New Guinea who used to eat fellow tribes people as part of a funeral rite.  The track is permeated by garbled voices evoking the madness suffered by the afflicted.  Which leads us onto the title track.

Twelve minutes of beatific brutality which twists from rock hard doom to gnarled claw fisted blackened metal as if beaten in a forge. The cymbal hits spark off the cooling metal and threaten to ignite the whole fucking thing!  No surprise then that the next track is Heat Death.  Sweeping in majestically with an air of religious reverence this represents a few moments of respite before building ominously to summon forth “Star Swallower”.

Oh shit. This is it. The end of the album but also, it appears the end of life itself. Here we go consumed by a gargantuan force, buried in the blackened cold of the space void. Lovely!

Fister create music that makes eternal suffering in the coldest, darkest reaches of the inhuman mind seem like a great idea. This is music for the Cenobite curious. I bloody love it.

(8.5/10 Matt Mason)