Review Summary: I want off Mr. Gulch's wild ride
This kind of face-pummeling grind/black metal/death metal/hardcore punk mish-mash music that has been getting more popular since the early 2010s, after a peak in the early-mid 2000s, is best handled in short bursts. There are only so many times you can recycle variations on old Rotten Sound riffs before the listener starts to notice, and personally, with the way these albums are mixed I’d rather not have to listen to forty-plus minutes of my ears being blown out, regardless of how good it is. Gulch understands this, and encapsulates the very idea of “don’t waste my time” on their debut LP, Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress, clocking in at just around fifteen minutes. The general vibe of this album is one I can only describe as hardcore punk run through some messed up OSDM/grind/BM filter. The d-beats and fight riffs are all there, but sounding more more mangled and unhinged than ever before, like a chimpanzee doped up on speed after escaping the zoo, every track on this album just wants to run around and scream while ripping as many faces off as possible.
On hearing tracks like “Cries of Pleasure, Heavenly Pain” it is easy to see how the dramatic yet raw flair of black metal tropes serves to give a lot of the stuff on this album more heft and a sort of disturbed tone lacking on many more straightforward punk releases. There is a big Intro riff that sounds like something off an old Emperor or Dissection album, and short bursts of blast beats that heighten the feel that this album isn’t just taking you on a ride, it’s holding a gun to your head and throwing you in the trunk as it proceeds to get into a high-speed police chase. This album sounds more Grind-esque at times, with songs like “Lie, Deny, Sanctify” using frenetic Rotten Sound-esque riffage and the vocalist screaming with enough bile and throat-shredding to make J.R. proud. My personal favorite track would have to be “***ing Towards Salvation” which starts with a nasty bass intro distorted to all hell and then goes into a series of mean chugs with a great fight riff at the end. Will be a popular live number for sure. If I had one complaint about this album, I guess it just doesn’t feel as intense or unhinged as their previous EPs. I don’t know exactly why, but if I could guess it is either the cleaner production or less chaotic songwriting. That being said, this is a pretty varied album, and like what has been said of their previous releases, if you’re a fan of any kind of hardcore punk, grind, black metal, or death metal, you’ll probably find something to like.