With Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress the American hardcore punk band Gulch surprisingly and without much warning releases their debut album. Some of you might have heard the announcement with as much joy as I did, because a longplayer was not only longed for by me but by the whole hardcore scene. Thanks to Closed Casket Activities this wish finally comes true and should satisfy fans for a while now.
When I stumbled across an article about a band called Gulch at bandcamp some time ago, it was clear to me after listening to it for a short while that the aura and the dull sound was something special, but what hype this band would actually cause in the end, no one could foresee.
When I released demo and ep as tape on Lower Class Kids Records shortly after, there were just two live sets on the net to check out. In the meantime, many friends and I have watched almost every show of the Californians online and are now sure that the hype about Gulch is more than fair.
Putting the band in any genre is not an easy task, because Gulch use too many different influences to be clearly defined as anything. The Californians’ recipe for success clearly lies in mixing different raw musical elements, which can always bring the listener to his own animal instincts. You may find it hard to believe, but the vocals on Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress actually sound even more disgusting than on demo or EP, but this was already announced with the two tracks from the promo tape, which by the way are also included on the album. From tons of URGHS to the puking out of the lyrics, the voice of singer Elliot nests in the ear canals inimitably.
The riffing, on the other hand, can best be described with a variety of handicraft lenses, because the guitars saw, squeak or drill like hell and vary between elements known from crust, death metal and hardcore punk without overloading the songs with them. Gulch simply have a knack for angry songwriting and only in the last song Sin in My Heart, with more melodic guitar playing, they dare a little break out of their otherwise primitive sound.
But the most outstanding thing about Gulch for me are the drums, which deliver an amazing performance even on the longplayer. By the way, these are played by Sammy, who is perhaps known to some as the singer of Drain. The special thing about the drumming is the combination of the super-dull sounds of the toms and the bass drum and a very concise, tinny snare. This contrast pushes the sound forward incredibly hard and permanently sounds as if the drums here are just beaten one meter deeper into the ground. Absolutely great and definitely the spark that finally makes the listener go crazy.
Apart from that Gulch impresses as usual with its massive stomping sound, which is also suitable for headbanging and moshing and which will certainly be a hit at home thanks to its strong production. In direct comparison to the Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath Ep you can see some musical progress, but for my taste you could have tried more new things and let them flow in.
Anyway, hopefully it won’t be the last output you get to hear from this band and without any ifs and buts Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress has become such a huge album that you can’t put it aside that fast anymore.
As mentioned in the beginning, the record was released by Closed Casket Activities, in various limited colour variations. But shortly after the official release, all copies were completely sold out and unfortunately I also went away empty-handed – but there is probably no clearer proof of the current hype about Gulch. Since the Burning Desire To Draw Last Breath has been repressed several times thanks to high demand, sooner or later you will probably get a vinyl version of Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress. Whether the album will be released in other formats remains to be seen.
Gulch is like a damn drug in audio format, where you only have to listen in once to get addicted immediately, while the most tempting thing about it is that the kick is always just as intense as the first time. Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress is for me personally a serious contender for the album of the year and a general enrichment for the whole hardcore punk discography. This is pure next level primitivity that you can’t miss in 2020!
“Fucking Towards Salvation”
” Sin In My Heart”