Centered around re-recorded versions of four songs from the band's two Wilde Club singles and the seven minute lovelorn "Black Metallic" - which was referred to as the "Like a Hurricane" of the ‘90s - the deeply rich Ferment firmly established Catherine Wheel amongst the shoegaze contingent of the early ‘90s. The band would proceed to denounce the shoegaze tag, but it was a fitting one, at least with everything they released prior to 1993's harder edged Chrome. Along with bands like Lush, Ride, and Slowdive, Catherine Wheel buried their sing-along melodies in wafts of distortion and blurry production values. Rob Dickinson had yet to find comfort as a lead singer, so his somewhat fey and dazed emoting blended perfectly with Tim Friese-Greene's comfy production. A fair amount of the bands thrown into the same category as Catherine Wheel were criticized for lacking knowledge of their instruments, but a couple listens to Ferment should prove that they were hardly amateurish. The employment of numerous guitar pedals didn't serve as a smoke-and-mirrors ruse, and Friese-Greene knew enough to allow room for bassist Dave Hawes and drummer Neil Sims to flex their able muscles. Dickinson and lead guitarist Brian Futter were immensely skilled and complementary to each other from the band's inception; certainly they were one of the most unrecognized guitar duos of their stylistic brethren. Like all fine debuts, Ferment is varied emotionally, ranging from lust ("I Want to Touch You") to bliss ("Shallow" and "Salt"). It's a record that makes you want to crawl inside its sleeve and remain. It's as welcoming as it is insular and sheltered.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman