Rongeur, it probably isn’t a word you know, or a name you know, but it’s definitely a word you will need to remember. Rongeur, or ‘a rongeur’, according to the internet, is ‘a heavy-duty surgical instrument used for gouging out bone’. In French it means ‘rodent’, or ‘gnawer’. Pretty apt considering. Well, in English, and in the world of music, it’s the name for the three-piece band from Oslo, in Norway. There’s a reason why I mention this, and that is because Rongeur are just about to unleash the most phenomenal album of 2021. This album, Glacier Tongue, is a face melting trip into a world of insanity, which will leave you numb, feral, and completely intoxicated.
I don’t say this lightly, this album has completely rejuvenated my thirst for extreme, heavy music. A feeling that I haven’t had satisfied in many many years. A ferocious monster of an album, as rabid as it is contagious. If heavy is your thing, this will have you scratching at the doors to get out and buy a copy.
Glacier Tongue is the second full length outing for the band. Three years in the making, and the big bastard brother of An Asphyxiating Embrace, which was released well before global pandemics came along, and royally fucked things up for us all. Over the course of the eight tracks (there is also a bonus track, which is not available on the vinyl release), Rongeur will be dragging you down into a pit of despair, and literally throwing your faces in the dirt.
Right from the opening bars of Nixonian Echoes, there’s absolutely no doubt where this is going. Hard as nails, abrasive, and volatile. Screeched vocals over breakneck guitar, and thunderous drum pounding is the key. It’s aggressive, its hardcore, its heart stopping. Even from the first minutes, I’m thinking Vision of Disorder, Bloodsimple, and even 36 Crazyfists.
Winning Days, track two, leaves no time to pause, and as it kicks in, a thunderous bass rumble dictates the pace. When it hits the highs, it’s phenomenal, its intense, brash, and monstrous. A couple of minutes in, it breaks into absolute carnage, a passage of anger, and it sets me on fire. This is the first of many times throughout this experience where I ponder the thought of how incredible this all is. At no time in the last decade at least, has an album captured my heart as instantly as this one has.
Years Of Withering is more sombre in tone, and introduces elements of shoegaze, where I draw comparison with the most recent Deafheaven release, Infinite Granite. It doesn’t last. As it shifts a couple of minutes in, the calmness is shattered. Like a call to war, the wall of sound is incredible. It’s a total tsunami of emotion, played out musically. More soulful than hardcore, it’s more honest and versatile than 90% of other hard music, its truly wondrous. Words cannot express at this point just how overwhelming this experience is to me.
a face melting trip into a world of insanity, which will leave you numb, feral, and completely intoxicated…
Gutter Mountain solidifies the fact that this feeling refuses to quit. Edgy, hard, and abrasive, this soundtrack is EVERYTHING. Kurts Last Will thrusts forth another slice of monstrousness through the speakers. Again, there’s elements of V.O.D and Bloodsimple, and it’s hard to believe that this hasn’t come out of the US, it feels very NY hardcore, but it’s also so much more.
Brace throws in some curveballs, complete with traditional Norse singing. It’s the most obscure track on the album but is equally as intoxicating. By the time it finishes its absolutely soaring. Naileater is the one. This is full on V.O.D style goodness. Crushing, chugging, it’s an absolute stomping beast. This is everything hard abrasive music should be, it’s absolutely sublime.
Underachiever seals the deal for me. Without doubt, this is the album I’ve waited years to have engulf my life. Not since Phil Anselmo’s animalistic screeching growls on I’m Broken, have I heard such primal animal noises appear in recorded form. Absolutely monstrous, every second has my heart pounding in time to the drumbeat.
Bonus track Harrower is a slower piece, gloomy, and dark. On this track there’s actually some clean vocal singing, but it doesn’t last beyond the first verse. As it shifts gear, its replaced with a more abrasive sound, which is blistering. As it trails off toward the end, the full majesty of this album still hasn’t sunk in.
It’s been a long time since any one album has so incredibly encapsulated the energy I seek that’s in perfect unison with the vibe, but this album is something else, it’s something more. It’s everything I’ve wanted, and searched for, for so long. As music fans, we long for that one perfect piece, and this is my perfect piece.
Without any hesitation, I’m instantly in love with it, and as 2021 draws to a close, this surprise has steamrolled everything else I’ve heard. I have nothing but love for this album, its total perfection, and an absolute work of art. As a parting thought, if this is the band you wear the shirt of, everyone around you will be like ‘Fuck, those guys are vicious’… and that’s just how it should be, this is what we strive for…
Scribed by: Lee Beamish