It’s been three years since As the Blind Strive/ The Catastrophist which introduced the world to Oslo’s Rongeur. That release compiled their work to date and gave a tantalising flavour of the trio’s heavy dirty sound. At the end of my review at the time I wrote about how far the band had come in the three years since their inception and how much I was looking forward to their first full length. So here we are three years, a split and an EP later and An Asphyxiating Embrace is in my mitts- on ruddy white vinyl for extra hipster points (pauses to rub thighs).
Rongeur have found their feet and their sound on this release , where “As the Blind Strive….” showed a band experimenting with various elements of sludge, post rock and metal “An Asphyxiating Embrace” depicts a band who have found their groove and are ready to show the world their wares.
As soon as I spotted the opening track title “Weltschmerz” I was struck by reviewer Dejavu (dejaRevu maybe?). As a non German speaker , to recognise a word surprises me . Weltschmerz is a feeling of world weariness and melancholy – kind of how 2017-18 has been for many of us. I first came across it via Dutch grind punks Fubar – Rongeur have not covered the manic rasps of the lowlanders. This slice of melancholy is a slab of noise rock that will prick up the ears of Whores and Baptist fans. There are layers of strings and piano that accentuate the angry/sad vibe of the track before the stoner rock groove of “Special Needs” breaks out. Big big desert riffs atop rasped vocals and a greaser sensibility. A song to drink whiskey and rock out to. Much like the raging “Mr Hands” which features later on in the album. Rongeur showed on their debut, with tracks like Jon Hogg that they like to rock out with their bone saw out and these two show they still like a dose of nitro in their swamp juice.
“Fiendesliebe” slows things down a little, combining chugging riffs that could keep George Fischer’s neck in shape and guitar hooks out of the Deafheaven songbook. “Wellpisser” which follows, mixes swathes of stoner and noiserock with blackened rasps to great effect before taking a massive left turn into prog and post rock for a crescendo.
With a title like “The Deconstructionist” I was expecting a cut and paste of styles a la free form jazz. Shows what I know. It’s a drum heavy, sludgy, choppy, brawler of a track with a hardcore chorus that sounds like it was lifted from a friendly anarcho punk album. There are more punk elements but of a more raw kind within “The Weight of Guilt” which sees an interesting orchestration mixing synthesised strings , stabs of 80’s guitars and triumphant vocals to great effect.
“Chained to a Dead Horse” brings the 8 tracks to a close – far too soon. Massive bass riffs in here that Lemmy would have approved of, interlacing three minutes of and visceral noise.
With the plethora of awesome new(ish) noise out there at the moment- Whores, Bummer and Child Bite et al , Rongeur have many similarly minded bedfellows with whom to romp . It would be great to see their bass heavy swagger added to a spiky guitar bill in Europe over the next year. Damn fine riffing son!
(8/10 Matt Mason)