Process of Guilt
FÆMIN

I’m not generally a fan of post-metal, what with its simplistic, introspective riffing that goes nowhere and boring atmosphere, all in the hipsterish conceit that it’s actually more thoughtful than being, I dunno, good. But then there’s Portugal’s Process of Guilt who put so much venom and nightmarish tension into the post-metal compositions on their newest album FÆMIN that I can’t help but be won over.

As one would expect, there’s a lot of droning riffs involved, all at slow to mid paces, and the songs are utterly repetitive, but Process of Guilt use the relentless pulsing to create atmospheres of tense expectation that rarely result in a payoff. The biggest exception would be “Empire,” the first track, which builds for almost six minutes on a seething, tribal riff that finally erupts into a vicious riff that wouldn’t have been totally out of place on the first Mastodon record. But other than that, the tension created in each song is just carried over to the next. On the surface it seems trancey but it ultimately has the exact opposite effect.

“Harvest” and the title track are a bit more direct with pummeling, aggressive riffing but never really develop, instead just pushing the atmosphere along. By contrast, “Cleanse” is mellow for much of its duration but then builds into a heavy, pounding riff that somehow maintains the same sense of dread as the previous section, and just propels it further with howling twin guitars. The entire album has an uncomfortable, edge-of-the-seat sound to it that never really gets resolved. Another thing that adds to the weird feel is the simultaneously clear and raw production. The guitars and bass have a grinding buzz that would be suitable for a more necro recording, but instead they’re mic’ed up so cleanly that every detail is very audible in the mix. It’s almost like being more privy to an intimate situation than I’d like to be.

A lot of what gives the album its aggressive feel is the powerful vocals of Hugo Santos, whose mid-range death bellow is full of dripping gurgle. A weaker vocalist would have completely ruined the entire listening experience, but Santos never even allows the more introspective sections to wimp out.

But ultimately, as much as I dig FÆMIN, it’s difficult to think of a time when I’d feel a strong need to listen to it, except maybe while playing a horror video game or something. It doesn’t get the blood pumping but it’s also not suitable for relaxing. It’s a strange, uncomfortable listen that is very much worth checking out, but I’m not sure it has a lot of replay value.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Andrew Young
July 20th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: STIFFY

    Their sound has changed quite a bit over the years. This post-metal/ Neurosis thing they do is well done and enjoyable, but I miss the sound on Renounce (their debut)

    The riffs just go on forever on this record as they did with Erosion. I need a little more substance. I like this band a lot though.


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