EP Review – At War with Pretension by Fistula (PATAC Records)

Ohio based sludge/doom masters Fistula have released a brand new EP called At War With Pretension via PATAC Records.

Fistula formed way back in 1998 releasing their debut Hymns of Slumber in 2001. They seem to have released an insane amount of albums, EPs and splits in their years. 5 albums, 27 EPs, singles and split releases and feature on around 10 compilations. That’s some output. Fistula are founding members Corey Bing and Bahb Branca on guitars with Dan Harrington on vocals. Buddy Peel is on the bass while Kenny Easterly is the drummer.


At War with Pretension is a short EP with just 4 tracks on it that have a total runtime of around 13 minutes. We start off with Suicide Priest. A 2 plus minute long blast of vicious death/grind around the topic of a priest committing suicide after being found to be abusing children. A dark topic and one that has incited fury and venom to pour through on the song. Lines like “hang yourself from the Bible Belt, you fucking worm” ensure we know they mean it. Musically it is really raw and fuzzy sounding in parts. The underlying riff is dark and dirty and the drums bang out a nice rhythm. Vocals are gravelly and sound a little strained adding to the dark feeling of the song.

Grey Death has a deeper tone and blackened feel to its chunky intro. The guitars sound amazing hammering out a wicked line punctuated by drum crashes and booming vocals. It picks up for the verse with drums banging out cymbal heavy blasts, lots of feedback and fuzziness. There is a cracking slowed down, doom section near the end to get you slow headbang on to. Dishonor Roll has a slowed start with thunderous drum blasts and snarled vocals. It picks up to a nice chugging pace for a bit and has a fiery ending that sees the guitars blazing out a speed riff with vocals dripping with menace.

At War With Pretension ends with To Aa Clown. Again Fistula go for the slower down riff with intermittent drum beats, lashings of feedback and raw vocals. It picks up intensity by filling out the gaps rather than speeding up and turns in to a stomping song with vicious vocals and a deep bassy riff. The drums are great, little fills hold the whole song together. We also get our first, almost, solo with a menacing guitar line that is quickly joined by vocals but stays prominent. It’s probably my favourite of the 4 songs and is a fantastic way to close out a release.

At War With Pretension is a really strong release from Fistula. It is dark, raw and aggressive, feeling like the band had some things to get of their chest. The emotion drips through in part from the quality of music but also through the raw and fuzzy production. Keeping things really raw doesn’t always work out but here it is just enough to give it the feel of unpolished outpourings of emotion. There are points, especially in Dishonor Roll where things feel a little predictable but only just before the excellent ending track, To Aa Clown pulls it all back. Solid effort.

At War With Pretension is out now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can pick yourself up a copy, digital only, from PATAC Records here. There is also a limited edition 12inch split with Junkov En available from here. Find out more about Fistula at their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following the links.

At War with Pretension by Fistula (PATAC Records)
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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