By Craig Hayes. Back in the early 90s, I worked in a medical laboratory where every imaginable sample that can be scrapped or siphoned off a human being ended up for testing. My job wasn’t on the diagnostic end of the spectrum, I was the hapless guy unpacking endless boxes of ooze in the lab’s basement.By Craig Hayes.
Back in the early 90s, I worked in a medical laboratory where every imaginable sample that can be scrapped or siphoned off a human being ended up for testing. My job wasn’t on the diagnostic end of the spectrum, I was the hapless guy unpacking endless boxes of ooze in the lab’s basement. Every so often, a toe, nose, ear, eye, finger, testicle, or breast –– or, on one memorable day, an entire arm –– would arrive in a box. But while it was disconcerting unpacking bits of bodies, that wasn’t the worst part of my job.
The worst part was the boxes jam-packed with fecal collection containers. If even one of those containers wasn’t properly sealed, well, it made for a truly stomach-turning experience. But if two or more container seals broke, then what awaited was an indescribable fucking nightmare.
I’m telling you this because sludge band Fistula’s new album, Longing for Infection, is the perfect reminder of those good ol’ gut-churning days back in the lab. (In fact, an indescribable fucking nightmare is pretty much a perfect summation of Fistula’s entire oeuvre.) Longing for Infection is certainly chock-a-block with putrid and ugly noise, and that’s obviously all part of its intrinsic appeal. More to the point, though –– and you’re going to have to excuse a little more metaphorical unsavouriness here –– it’s also entirely apt to point out that Fistula do sound like Eyehategod shitting out Buzzov•en after a three-day, hallucinatory bender.
Normally, I’d feel compelled to apologize for that distasteful description above. But not when Fistula are in frame. The band certainly wouldn’t countenance apologising for describing their music in a graceless manner, because Fistula are rabble-rousing cutthroats. They’re scumbags of the highest order, bound for Hell and making an incendiary racket along the way.
Basically, if you don’t like Fistula, then it’s fuck you, pal. That’s about the sum of it. They’re an unapologetically confronting band, and of course sludge punks like Fistula are at their absolute best when they’re at their filthiest and most provocative. The band’s been a reliable merchant of ill-mannered trash since 1998, and they’ve built an extensive discography that now features 30+ releases. Obviously, all those splits, EPs or full-lengths have their fans, but it’s Fistula’s maleficent 2014 full-length, Vermin Prolificus, that’s drawn the most attention.
Longing for Infection continues in a similar sonic vein to Vermin Prolificus, and in another familiar turn of events, Fistula’s new album also features another line-up reshuffle. Clearly, instability in the ranks is probably maddening for the band. But it certainly suits Fistula well in terms of fuelling volatile music that channels a mix of frustration, chaos and dogged determination.
No question, Longing for Infection is replete with anger, dejection, and heavy helping of corruption. And the only notable musical change on Fistula’s new album is that the songs are a little shorter and tighter overall. The band still distill their habit-forming brew of sewage sludge, punk and doom on tracks like “Too Many Devils and Drugs”, “Destitute”, and the excellent lengthier dirge “Smoke Acid, Shoot Pills”. And all the songs on Longing for Infection are imbued with levels of dirt and degeneracy that’ll leave you feeling like an acid casualty at the end of your rope –– with suppurating sores to boot.
Obviously, Fistula aren’t alone in making music that evokes wayward B grade horrors, drug-addled psychosis, and a knife through the eyeball. Bands like Primitive Man or Fister also deal in similar depravity, and like those groups, Fistula make utter squalor sound superbly enticing.
Truth is, I’m in no hurry to ever return to that lab and open the lid on another horror show. But damn if Longing for Infection doesn’t make me very nostalgic for the visceral thrill of appalling gore and vomit-inducing madness. In other words, Longing for Infection is deliciously disgusting, and perfectly appalling. So chow down, kids.