Exclusive Track Premiere: Swelling Repulsion’s “Basking in Fumes of Failure”


Can you smell it?

On June 5, Swelling Repulsion will release Fatally Misguided, the Colorado trio’s second LP and first for the esteemed Transcending Obscurity Records. In January, we were treated to titular lead single “Fatally Misguided,” about which I said—following Hans‘ 2021 comments on the band’s The Severed Path—the band “does not seem to have lost sight of modesty, moderation, and precision in creating immensely beguiling tech-death.” Since then, we’ve heard “Cesspool of Dismembered Memory,” a track that wastes little time wending and wefting its way through your already hopelessly tangled and fried synapses, and album closer “Sullen Light of Expired Stars,” which, in its length and grandeur, might recall something from Adramelech‘s Psychostasia. A lot of what we hear from Swelling Repulsion can certainly be traced to the weird-but-not-as-weird-as-other-Finnish-acts of Adramelech and the early prog-death days of Prodigal Son by Afflicted. Swelling Repulsion brings a sense of melodic, proggy exploration to the kind of endlessly winding madness of labelmates Fathomless Ritual. It’s just not as gurgly.

Today, we’ve again got the goods, as we’re bringing you an exclusive premiere of “Basking in Fumes of Failure,” the 4th track from Fatally Misguided, and yet another example of the band’s precision and moderation. Barely eclipsing 3 minutes, “Basking in Fumes of Failure” is squiggling riffs, start-stop drumming, surprisingly pleasant chords, and bellowing vocals. Drummer/vocalist Bage strikes an immensely impressive balance between a drumming style that cannot and will not sit still and a voice that, in its powerful delivery, works to almost shepherd the rest of the band along. Jablonicky’s bass and Dono’s guitar are, similarly, doing a considerable amount in what feels like little time and space. As Hans wrote 3 years ago, the band has a refined and methodical approach to song construction, one that relies on a series of well-designed and even more expertly executed ideas. There’s always a sense of movement forward, even as the band returns to a particular riff or pattern or idea; it’s a swelling that just grows and grows and grows towards some repulsive end without any sense of contracting or compressing or reducing. Also, does anyone hear a little Death in that absolutely sick riff at 2:35? Tell me I’m crazy.

About the track, the band has this to say:

“‘Basking in Fumes of Failure’ encompasses the album’s narrative of imminent defeat. As seen in many endeavors throughout history, the outcome of physical and mental labor can be inconclusive. Some endeavors only lead to further questions, despite all factors being in favor of success.”

“From a certain point,” begins one of Franz Kafka’s aphorisms, “there is no more turning back. That is the point that must be reached.” But why? Adam Phillips thinks it might, among many other things, have to do with a certain freedom that such a point grants one: freedom from desire, from complication, from conflict, from the temptation to go back. It seems to me, “Basking in the Fumes of Failure” is a song located precisely at this point of no turning back with a sense of revelry and reality, shorn of any complications or competing narratives or inconclusions. The fumes of failure are here, and we can either accept them and bathe ourselves in them, or we can attempt to fan them away, to refuse what we know about this moment. In not refusing to know whatever it is we know about this moment, this point, of failure, can we then find some kind of success, some kind of pleasurable or even desirable outcome? “Basking in Fumes of Failure” is playing in the same sandbox as Kafka and Phillips, and they’re making a spiraling, whirling, psychotropic masterpiece of it. So hit play on the track below and play along in the sandbox of eternity with us:

I’d bottle that sand art if I could. And I can! Because, thanks to Swelling Repulsion and Transcending Obscurity, it’s all for sale.

Fatally Misguided lands on June 5 via
Transcending Obscurity Records.
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