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Friday 5 April 2024

Reviews: Cistvaen, Ingested, Temple Of Fuzz, The Monolithic Deathcult (Reviews By Matt Bladen, Charlie Rogers, Rich Piva & Mark Young)

Cistvaen - At Light's Demise (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Following their 2021 EP, Under The Silent Meadow Skies, South Western band Cistvaen, support the idea that misery loves company, with their devastating debut album At Light's Demise. Produced by Josh Gallop at Stage 2 Studios like the EP, this album is bleak, introspective and maudlin, but filled with moments of shimmering beauty. 

Having been in production since 2019, it brings together Lee Meade (guitar), James Mardon (bass), Ed Wilcox (drums), Guy Taylor (vocals), Chris Finch (guitars) on the record as Mark Sanders (guitars) re-joins after leaving the band in 2017 to take over from Chris. Musically the band sync in cinematic introspection, moments of ambience dial up the emotion, these moments of resonance send chills down your spine as they often sit in the middle of furious blasts of black metal tremolo picking and crashing swathes of doom.

At Light’s Demise begins with the title track, guitars in full tremolo picked assault, bass audible and technical and the drums locked into a blastbeat as the snarled/growled vocals come in as it slows a little adding the melodic atmospheric influences. It sets the ground well for what is to come for 7 songs, a 9 minute first song that works its way between black metal, post metal and even some doom stretches, building the frigid atmospheres and heartbreak that will run through the rest of the record. Harmonious guitars of Lee and Chris ring out at the beginning of Cessation Of Hope before the blastbeats of Ed enter again, unifying into the epic black metal sounds of a band such as Fen.

With the brighter melodies coming here, The Epitaph relies on clean shimmering guitars, that somehow carry more emotional weight than the furious black metal riffs, the transition to acoustics from slow lumbering doom increasing this despondency into more blistering black metal, James’s bass at the root of the heavy blasts of the galloping Bleak House and the low end muscle when things slow on The Blind Observer. The rueful piano on Time The Mournful cuts through the dissonant blasts, Guy displaying a wide ranging extreme vocals style across the album, he is the vessel for the lyrics, a scarred voice as part of a wonderful musical palette.

At Light’s Demise is a majestic record, built on euphoric melancholy, it draws you in, holds you close and allows you to experience it fully. 9/10

Ingested - The Tide Of Death And Fractured Dreams (Metal Blade Records) [Charlie Rogers]

Slamchester’s finest export return from the studio with their 8th album The Tide Of Death And Fractured Dreams, a mixed bag of varied influences, themes, and song structures. Gripping the listener by the throat from beat 1, the deluge of visceral riffs, machinegun blastbeats, and rasping, sewer monster vocals are a declaration of intent: Ingested aren’t messing around, they demand you nod your head, tap your feet, just move something to the infectious rhythms conjured forth from their frothing, sonic maelstrom.

This release features a number of experimental sounds for Ingested, from clean singing for the majority of a track on A Path Once Lost, to an almost djent track with Starve The Fire. Instrumental track “Numinous” is a particular gem, very different from what the lads have written before, but expertly executed. There’s a healthy amount of Sean’s signature guitar tone chugging out the kind of riffs that earned them their crown too, but how much of the song writing process was carefully selecting new elements to introduce with purpose, and how much was slinging riffs at a wall and seeing what sticks? 

There’s a lot to ruminate on here, I think the record both deserves repeat listens and also requires it to grasp the complexity of what Ingested have presented. For me, Ingested’s previous album Ashes Lie Still was a low point in their studio releases, and it’s good to see they’re bouncing back with a firm grasp on the catchy, viscous riffs long time fans have enjoyed.

Production is on point as always - with so much going on it’s a fine balancing act to make sure all the instruments shine through, especially with Jason’s huge vocal range on display. I don’t usually shout out the cover art, but this one is particularly cool. I’m a sucker for a well drawn skull I guess. Despite the variety of influences and tones, the album remains consistent in delivering enjoyable songs, most of them heavy as balls, all of them a representative sample of how solid the Ingested machine can be. 

Stick it on, have a good headbang, and don’t forget to pick your jaw up after hearing how absurdly quick Lyn’s double kicks are. 7/10
Temple Of The Fuzz Witch - Apotheosis (Ripple Music) [Rich Piva]

The battle for heaviest Ripple Music release has a new contender, with new signee Temple Of The Fuzz Witch submitting their latest release and second full length, Apotheosis. Releases by Viral Tyrant, Iron Mother Horse, and Behold! The Monolith can all argue for their Ripple releases being the ones that bring the most heavy, so how does the new TOTFW stack up against those crushers? 

If you are not acquainted, Temple Of The Fuzz Witch play a blackened psych doom that is all about crushing you. Vocally some listeners will struggle, as a good chunk are unclean, but if you can get past that and want your skull crushed in you have come to the right place. 

The opener, A Call To Pray has all that I listed previously and more, while Wight is starts out with some clean vocals and some psych doom action that gets broken up intermediately by some seriously fast black metal guitars. Some filthy death doom vibes are present too and I love the way the clean and not so clean vocals meld together. 

Nephilim brings it all too, slowly crushing all in its wake. The clean vocals here are excellent and makes you think how interesting a record from these guys would be with only the clean stuff because this track is killer. Oh, did I mention the part when this track breaks down into pure fucking black metal? A riff reminding me of Supernaut blasts off the track Bow Down which is three minutes of awesome classic heavy doom with rotating vocal styles. 

Another filthy riff combined with excellent clean vocals start of Sanguine until the baton is passed to Satan to take over the signing duties while the double bass drum continues to kick you upside the head. In some cases, me writing “more of the same” may be considered a negative or connotate the record dragging but not in this case, as tracks like Cursed and Apostate are similar in style but no less great, which Raze goes almost all clean vocals and is subsequently my favourite track on Apotheosis

The closer, Ashes, is pure death doom, that leaves nothing left to recover after the slow destruction Apotheosis reaped upon the land. So, yeah, Temple Of The Fuzz Witch sure does have a heaviest Ripple album contender with Apotheosis. This is excellently executed blackened psych doom that if you love the heavy and enjoy or even can deal with unclean singing, that you need to experience. 8/10

The Monolith Deathcult - The Demon Who Makes Trophies Of Men (Human Detonator Records) [Mark Young]

Avant Garde Death Metal.

As a genre, this is a pretty new one on me and as a result you wonder just what the hell you are going to be subjected to. In any respect, It’s a pretty cool band name which evokes all manner of ways this music could go and points to something that will hit very hard. Well, that is the hope.

The title track, The Demon Who Makes Trophies Of Men starts proceedings with a sample that could be taken from Predator, in that it kind of sounds like Elpidia Carrillo but it could be a sound-a-like. No matter, it’s a percussive blast that reminds me of early 90’s Ministry fed a diet of Morbid Angel. Some ‘homage’ to Predator is dropped in for good measure, adding a metal edge to the central theme which is storming. Samples galore, straight forward grooves and we are off. Commanders Encircled With Foes treads the same path as The Demon, but this is no rehash. Samples are used to great effect against one of those riffs that make you want to dance. Riff-wise its incredibly efficient, they are simple and memorable and just work so well.

Kindertodeslied MMXXIV kicks off with a slow building measure, the drumming coming through to set the scene as repeated samples pour over the top. Using drum and bass before the main vocals kick in, mixing up effect processed singing and samples. This is the first signs of that Avant Garde approach that was promised as they utilise different sonic approaches that lean into more electronica. 

Vincent Price ushers in The Nightmare Corpse-City Of R’lyeh with a riff that is tying itself in knots whilst a suitably grand and epic symphonic piece plays out behind it. And then, JAWS...and it’s now a game of guess the quote whilst they run through a soundtrack to what could be the best boss fight ever. Amazingly it consists of just one riff, but it is arranged so well it just rips.

Gogmagog – The Bryansk Forest Re-visited decides that whatever they did in the Nightmare Corpse City they are going to go one better. Round 1, FIGHT! The growls are back as the pair of Robin Kok and Michiel Dekker trade vocal lines whilst the music behind it lays waste. Blast beats, over-the top solo work, what more can you ask for? This is a 7-minute battering that showcases the talents of Frank Schilperoort, his drumming keeping everyone on point, controlling the tempo and attack and being the foundation, everything is built from. 

MATADORRRR has this grinding pace to it, guitars stabbing whilst the drums are doing their thing, it is a little disposable when compared against the tracks that precede it. Three-Headed Death Machine decides it wants to pep things up a little, just in case your energy is flagging. Adopting more sonic touches with a riff that will conjure up spontaneous dancing once they drop it live, it goes some way to pick that bar up again as it uses that synths to expand the sound around it.

I Spew Thee Out Of My Mouth MMXXIII is the last song and starts by using a similar approach to that of Gogmagog, the epic synth pattern against a filthy sounding guitar tone that is slow to start before they put the collective boot in, and they take the shackles off. This is exactly how you should end an album, as over the course of 8 minutes they bring you some of the most immediate extreme metal you will hear. Everything here is delivered so well it makes light of the track length, throwing in melody and the bludgeon in equal measure. This is some good stuff, loving the use of samples in such a free and easy way. 

I mentioned it earlier about how it takes me back to Psalm 69 era Ministry how it all fits together. Over the course of the 8 songs, it shows that not everyone is a cracker, but for the most part it’s a storming set that shows they could go in any direction and generally make it work. What it does do is anchor them to a certain pattern in each song, but they overcome that with the use of those samples, and where they use them. This is one of those albums where if you give it a chance you might just discover your new favourite band. 8/10

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