Opening with the self-titled track, “Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress” immediately thrusts into the listener with pinging snare hits and rampaging howls directly from the gut. Almost as if it was recorded to destroy, Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress takes what makes Gulch such an impressive hardcore force and displays it in full flash. Every track amounting to the 15-minute runtime has purpose and malicious intent. Where bands can embody full chaos, Gulch is here to promote it and prominently worship it.
The following track “Self-Inflicted Mental Terror,” while sounding like a badass horror show, is tense from start to finish and etches emotional scarring. With lyrics that describe, “Slither down the rabbit hole, a birthing canal of mental terror. Temptations, seduction, reflections in the blood. Showing the face of true corruption, swallowed secretion, spreading the infection.” The snapping breaks of organized walls of noise, then sudden stops is a jerking motion that snaps the neck quickly, then is able to reposition it back for more misery. While Gulch is an aggressive powerhouse that is meant to be as off-putting as possible, the experience of Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress is more enjoyable because of this willingness to adapt new techniques of punishment.
Through persecution and ridicule, Gulch heads straight into a cinderblock barrier with “All Fall Down The Well” where belligerence lives inside the mind of the band. The instrumentalist are ripping here and then the vocals are able to glide over a war-torn battlefield. Nothing seems approachable here, but for fans of short-winded grips of power, Gulch is the poster child for excessive force. The swirls that occur on the strings that bounce back in retaliation against the percussive aspect continue to inspire not just feelings of hate, but more importantly, paints vivid hell.
Final moments spent with Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress creates a more sluggish build that ditches the obliterating assaults on the ears and instead draws out the performance to be a swan song with “Sin In My Heart.” Honestly, one of the strongest tracks here from Gulch, the desire to draw last breath in this sense is more for the aftermath of reflection rather than illustrating any more introductory flames. Even the last seconds which adapt to some quicker percussive beats feature a sudden short breath before the head is completely removed for autopsy.
Through emotional dissonance and a desire to kill, Gulch is the fast riser in hardcore that earns a spot not just on the Santa Cruz circuit, but as some of the more promising acts to feature lately. While still stuck on the inside looking out, not even global pandemic can slow the 15 minute funeral from Gulch.