From the outer reaches of the great beyond, from the whirling chaos over the event horizon, come Space Fisters. In their debut album Vol. 1, this French three-piece (Clément Baltassat on bass and vocals, Robin Pruchon on guitars and Léo Mo on drums) have released a monster that’s fuzzier than Billy Gibbons’ beard. Packed with head-nodding grooves, bluesy riffs and atmospheric, surf-rock guitar effects, it’s a solid first foray into the psychedelic realm of space rock. Whilst not bringing anything particularly novel to the generic table, Space Fisters offer up 37 minutes of raw, tasty rock.
Luring you in with shuddering guitar leads sounding straight from the Twilight Zone, Space Fisters soon launch into a heavy stoner riff full of thunderous bass and bluesy licks. This is essentially the modus operandi for the whole album – move between psychedelic sound effects and nasty but rapid grooves. Vol. 1 is generally up-tempo, definitely in keeping with the punk-tinged antics of stoner bands like Red Fang.
The vocals inhabit that space between clean singing and raspy shouts, not dissimilar from some of Wino’s work in Saint Vitus. Of course things are a bit faster here, and the vocals more heavily effected. In particular, on opener Short Daze the bubbling vocals have both positive and negative effects. On the one hand they fit the music, evoking the same psychedelic haze carried by the strange guitar and fuzzy bass lines. On the other, they sound like I’m listening to the album through broken iPod headphones.
Things get good ‘n’ doomy on the second track, Yellow Hills. Space Fisters channel their inner Sabbath, with the same kind of Hammer Horror ambience that would make the 70s proud. Crawling guitars slink behind the bubbling vocals, but here the two sit together far better (perhaps because of the quietness of the instrumentation). There is plenty of psych soloing and heavy stoner groove to keep things moving, though. The drums are erratic, the vocals are eerie, and the jams (which sound improvised) are an acid trip through a witch’s sabbath.
Goddess Of Love / Priestess Of Pain ups the groove by introducing a swinging, open main riff that uses space well. The vocals are engaging, with Clément Baltassat tendency to hang on weird syllables when delivering his lines blending well with the music. It adds to that swirling, effect-heavy sound all over Vol. 1. Mo’s drums are nice and loose, Pruchon’s guitars snarl with heavy fuzz, and the song rushes from zero to one hundred to zero like classic prog rock. Space Fisters sound like they are having a blast making this album, and its infectious.
Vol. 1closes with Bozz, a 14 minute beast of crunching, bluesy guitars and pounding drums. Its anthemic, Space Fisters channelling Ozzy’s trademark cries. The main theme is simple and accessible, but full of stoner groove and power. There is another extended break where things slow down, complete with atmospheric, B-movie vocals. Given Space Fisters fondness for breaks on every track, this one loses its impact when it first arrives, no matter how well it fits the song. But its progression into a doom-tinged blues, reminiscent of Church Of Misery, is a nice touch, particularly when Baltassat’s haunting vocals return. The track feels like a compressed concept album, something about human enslavement to cosmic races. It’s a solid end to Vol. 1.
Vol. 1is a promising first album from this French three-piece. It packs a punch with its snarling guitars, pummelling drums and atmospheric guitar effects. The song structure becomes a little predictable by Goddess Of Love…, yet each track is its own entity. It’s an album that grows in intensity and gets better with each listen. Space Fisters may not travel far from the space rock formula, but they know how to write some damn catchy stoner jams.
Scribed by: Will Beattie