This is some white-hot shit right here, y’all. St. Louis three-piece Fulgora is redefining what it is to bring the thunder with their debut full-length Stratagem. “Full-length” is a pretty relative term as it relates to these lads (two of which moonlight in struggling opening acts like Pig Destroyer and Misery Index), as this consists of five songs, plus an introduction and an interlude.
With the fat trimmed as it were, all that’s left is the muscle, and every musical second of this does some serious heavy lifting. It’s criminal how catchy some of this is. Is this an attempt to show up the Jarvis brothers’ day gigs? If it is, it’s very, very close to succeeding (and, in the case of a certain page-igniting album, handily exceeding). Even the semi-breakdowns on tracks like “Splinter” have enough groove to put most of what’s come out this year to shame.
That’s not to say the main riffs aren’t plenty memorable—almost instant is the implantation and subsequent nod-along. “Artifice” recalls an alternate universe where Adrenaline is a death metal album and Deftones fans aren’t obnoxious pricks (well… they probably still are, but they’re death metal pricks, so we still have to invite them over for Passover and shit). B.L. LaMew’s hardcore-ish vocal leanings compliment the overall DM barrage without becoming stale or repetitive at any point.
Though at eighteen minutes (not counting the filler sample stuff), nothing becomes repetitive, as it’s not given a chance to do so. This also rules. When a damn thing needs done, one should be of the mindframe of doing said damn thing. These guys could have easily recorded double the amount of material for the sake of padding out a “proper” album, but the quality would almost assuredly have suffered—possibly immensely. This is almost a tease in how infectious this package ends up being before it ends so suddenly with the conclusion of the surprisingly elegant “Meridian”.
Long story short, Strategem is the truth. It’s an unfairly hook-y punch to the gut operating under the guise of being too short, when it’s actually a calculated laser-blast of death metal efficiency that every band on the face of the planet should take notes on. Fans of anything the brothers Jarvis are involved in should absolutely check this out. So should everyone else.