Album Review: Fange — “Privation”

Fange are a band that I have been championing for a while.  Not since their inception, but at least since the first time I took a chance on them when I saw their name in our promo planner.  Their signature and self-styled blend of “industrial death/harsh sludge” has always intrigued me due to their highly addicting blend of harsh noise and bone crushingly heavy riffs.  Privation, the band’s fourth full length (and my third review of theirs for the site) zeroes in on what I really appreciate about them, though, and what I think sets them well apart from their contemporaries: despite the fact that they have a genre they fit in, they refuse to make the same album twice.

As has been the case since inception, Privation and Fange are spearheaded by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Moreau, who orchestrates the chaos that runs through the French outfit’s blistering trudges through death metal, black metal, industrial, harsh noise and sludge.  Since the band’s recent switch to fully electronic drums circa 2019, the overall sound of the band has dialed up the noise and electronic elements much more than their earlier work, and Privation keeps the trend going forward.  However, with the addition of new guitarist Titouan Le Gal, the trio is now a quartet, and his influence in the band is immediately apparent.  On Privation, the band’s goal was to write more emotional and memorable songs, incorporating more melody and atmosphere without compromising the brutality and abrasive nature of their sound.  This is where Le Gal and Moreau work together, incorporating clean guitar lines extremely reminiscent of gloomy post punk and cold wave, along with an increased emphasis on clean vocals, both by singer Matthias Jungbluth and a bevy of guests.  This makes Privation a much more bleak album than previous efforts, but they certainly did nail the emotional facet of their goal.  These songs have a lot of life and variety in them, but they still manage to retain the core of what it means to be Fange.

The newer elements of Fange’s sound are what kick the album off, just in case you thought you knew what you were in for.  The one-two punch of opener “À La Racine” into “Sang-Vinaigre” showcases a lot more clean guitar melodies and cold, somber atmosphere and plays around a lot more with dynamics, at times coming as close to delicate as I have ever heard Fange get.  Similarly, “Né Pour Trahir” utilizes a lot of clean vocal melodies (thanks to guest Cindy Sanchez of Lisieux), while “Enfers Inoculés” leans into less harsh electronics for ambience, and dare I say, catchy hooks.  All of this works so well because it is backed up by a solid foundation of the fundamentals of Fange’s sound.  The buzzing, hissing electronics rip and sear through your eardrums, the vocals are a mix of wild bellows and retched howls (and the best inclusion of an outtake of Jungbluth coughing during recording), and the barbaric intensity is still very much a key part of the experience.  If you don’t believe me, just listen to “Extrême-Onction” or “Les Crocs Limés” and get flattened into a perfectly two dimensional object.  Fange have once again outdone themselves by not giving in to the pressure to do anything other than what their hearts tell them to, despite the fact that they have been led in a direction that is the most accessible their music has ever been.  It does a wonderful job of completing its mission of being more emotional and more memorable.

Fange are a band that fully embodies the “zag on ‘em” lifestyle.  Just when you think you know what they are going to do next they stop on a dime and change it up, but they never stray too far from what makes them special.  They know their brand, they just like to throw in some zest for good measure, and good measure it most certainly is.

— Ian

Privation is available now on Throatruiner Records. For more information on Fange, visit their Facebook page.

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