The saviours of extreme metal are here, and they will spin your head off your shoulders

(Image credit: Fawn Limbs)

The entirety of the tech metal scene that was so exciting 15 years ago has really begun to run out of ideas over the last. Endless seven string-clutching Meshuggah copycats, busting out auto-pilot polyrhythms with none of the power, imagination or technical prowess that the blueprint the Swedes created has left the tech world looking more clogged up with shite than a festival portaloo on a Sunday morning. I had practically given up on the idea that a band could come along and give me that dizzying thrill and feeling of ‘What the fuck is this?’ that early Dillinger, Candiria or Meshuggah themselves did back in the day.

And then I heard Fawn Limbs. One listen to Sleeper Vessels, the band's debut album, should be enough to convince you that, actually, there is plenty of room for exploration left in this world. The Pennsylvanian trio – yeah, that’s just three of them making this unholy racket – appear to have been set a challenge to fit as many extreme metal sub-genres into one album, and occasionally manage most of them all at the same time.

This is staggeringly heavy, wildly inventive and savagely evil sounding music. A song like Corruption Aperture manages to sound like Nasum, Sikth and Fantomas being zip-locked and suffocated in a plastic bag, Photovoltaic Hum takes the sub drops of deathcore and the electro mangling of Aphex Twin and crudely mangles them together and The Vermin Massive mates Animals As Leaders back catalogue with Pig Destroyer. And, knowing that brevity is key in maintaining this level of intensity, they also show great restraint by bringing the album to a close after 25 earth shattering minutes.

Fawn Limbs are the mutant, mongrel offspring of every musician that ever wanted to burst your ear drums and make you wince with physical pain from listening to them. Sleeper Vessels is a scathing, sadistic, stabbing, bludgeon of an album that has just breathed a new breath of foul, stinking air into a scene that was flatlining.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.