ALBUM REVIEW: Gulch – Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress

Release Date: July 24th 2020
Label: Closed Casket Activities
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In recent years, Closed Casket Activities have become a label synonymous with true hardcore revival. There’s been a notable resurgence in the unhinged, arresting, and downright depraved forms the genre initially took upon before being diluted and cross pollinated and tweaked for more mainstream, cookie cutter, Hot Topic consumption.

Just look at bands like Vein, Harm’s Way, or Portrayal Of Guilt; if there’s one thing they’ve all got in common, it’s their staunch, stubborn, unwavering approach to brutality. It’s refreshing to see a new era of potency expanding, and one group leading the charge, whether they’re aware of it or not, is Gulch.

Since making serious waves with their spasmodic 2018 EP, ‘Burning Desire To Draw Last Breath’, there’s been much underground attention and hushed whispers about when the arrival of a full-length would blister welcoming ears. With production assistance from the exceptional Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Jeff Rosenstock), the eight-track, sixteen-minute, subtly titled ‘Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress’ is a blistering, deranged debut.

Hearkening back to the early days of complex, dizzying metalcore, where the breakdown was the respite and not the culmination, these tracks wave their freak flag high and proud. Pummelling and vicious, yet nuanced in their brevity, the layered production from Shirley allows for ample breathing room in the seemingly minute moments of calm.

Drawing from classic stalwart influences such as Zao, Botch, and early The Dillinger Escape Plan, the material breathes with a nostalgic prowess of underground, lo-fi, mathematical, disjointed, caustic mayhem.

Most surprising, however, is following the continuing audible onslaught of the first seven cuts, things end on a far moodier note with ‘Sin In My Heart’, a cover of the 1981 song from goth-rock/new wave icons Siouxsie And The Banshees. Restrained and trudging, it paints the band in a totally different light while potentially opening several doors to push their sound through and explore.

With a palpable, unmatched sense of energy and presence, as well as a plethora of influences to pull from, Gulch have our full, undivided attention. What they do with it next is anyone’s guess.