Black Cult - Neo-Satanism
This band was created as a side project by two of the most prominent members of Croatia’s Black Metal scene (Insanus and Morbid, both of whom were/are involved in many bands), to play Black Metal the way they thought it should be played. That said, I had mixed expectations for this release. On one hand, it’s a project created by two scene veterans who, theoretically, should know what Black Metal is supposed to sound like. On the other hand, these guys come from a scene that isn’t exactly world famous for spawning awesome Black Metal in the same way that Norway, Sweden, and Greece are. Black Cult was either going to be good or shit, depending on what these guys thought Black Metal was supposed to be about. That said, Neo-Satanism is actually pretty good. It’s a throwback to the older era of Norse/Scandinavian Black Metal with lots of nods to old Bathory and the usual suspects (Emperor, Burzum, Darkthrone, etc.) as far as musical influences. The music itself isn’t groundbreakingly original, but at the same time, it does possess some of the old Punk energy that was a hallmark of early Black Metal, particularly when it came to the most ancient bands, namely Venom and Bathory. That energy elevates this LP from being a project that shamelessly apes old Scandinavian bands to a band that actually has convictions. These guys want to play this kind of music, they believe in what they’re playing, and their enthusiasm shows. What’s lacking, though, is a dark atmosphere. The music itself is a lethal cocktail of catchy riffs and corrosive vocals, but seems to lack an aura of menace or pervasive evil, something almost as essential to Black Metal as guitars and drums. I think the root cause of it is the cleaner sound. This could have used a dirtier and rawer guitar tone (preferably one that was bass-heavy) and maybe some more reverb on the vocals. Neo-Satanism has a sound that shows the riffs in razor sharp clarity and I think that clarity came at the expense of the band’s natural rawness. I imagine that if you saw Black Cult perform live, all of these songs would sound fucking insanely dark, but it doesn’t translate as well here. This is a minor thing because I also factor in how much damage this band delivered to my neck - and this album did a considerable amount of it. There is room for improvement in the production side of things, but as far as the music and its execution, this is excellent.
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