|Art by Jeni Fitts / Provoking Drama|
I vaguely remember checking out Cult of Occult's first full-length, Hic Est Domus Diaboli in the summer of 2014, and then moving on without a strong impression. I found it a bit too monolithic, I think. It's hard for me to quantify how much they've changed vs. how much I've changed in the intervening time, but I found their newest, Five Degrees of Insanity, instantly addicting.
This is filthy sludge at its most pure. Earlier this year, I compared Bell Witch's album with creeping lava, and I think that metaphor works equally well for Cult of Occult. (I'm also trying to make "lava-core" a thing in metal journalism. Help a guy out!) Five Degrees of Insanity is a vicious, viscous crawl. As if being smothered by lava weren't enough, the band's happy to pound you over the head with a sledgehammer. Hell, I started pounding on my desk along with the crawling beat of "Nihilistic." That water-torture-slow drip of a riff packs a surprising amount of heft.
That song gives you a pretty good feel for the album. There's some obvious variation, like the furious energy in the opening of "Misanthropic," but for the most part, the music stays low, slow, and dirty. Vocals growl for the most part, except when they're shrieking invective like "OPEN YOUR EYES YOUR LIFE IS SHIT!. (In a nice touch, the band has included the lyrics on their Bandcamp page, written as solid blocks of ALL CAPS text. The typesetting matches the intensity.)
Sometimes I think the music could use a little more variation--after all, ten and a half minutes is the shortest track on this mammoth--but there's something absolutely magnetic in this album that pulls me along, even in the face of doubt. And talk about pulling you in: The album art for this, done by Jeni Fitts, could easily be in the Museum of Modern Art. It's the kind of disturbing piece that I'd spend at least 15 minutes staring at while other patrons edged warily around me. It's a perfect fit for this bruiser of an album.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]