Tuesday, 10 February 2015

EVIL SPIRIT - Cauldron Messiah (Album Review)

The pendulum is a torture device in which a thick blade is suspended and swings in a wide arc across the midsection of a victim until the body is halved. It was immortalized by Edgar Allen Poe in “The Pit and the Pendulum”, later adapted by filmmaker Stuart Gordon, arguably the foremost interpreter of the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Poe.

I know Horror Records as the home of Abysmal Grief. They're one of those bands that I binge listen to. They've had releases from other bands I've reviewed and liked, such as Black Oath and Anima Morte for example, but everything else from the label has been tertiary to me ... until I saw this album come up on my bandcamp feed. It's by a band with the ominous name of Evil Spirit. "Okay, I'm listening ..." Their album is called 'Cauldron Messiah'. "You still haven't lost me yet". Then I saw the album cover. "Alright, time to press play". There was only one song up at the time, "Grey Ashes of the Reptile" a razor sharp pendulum of blackened doom (it's since been joined by the title track). It was up for free download so I grabbed it immediately and pondered over the file's contents with hand resting thoughtfully on my (then bearded) chin. Then I waited.

And waited.

And so on. There were delays, the full album didn't go up on the scheduled date. I finally got my grubby mitts on it and the wait was worth it. While waiting I pondered the remaining empty spaces of the album and imagined what they may contain, the ultimate result, that shrouded entity that scientists have classified as 'Cauldron Messiah', was everything I imagined it to be, though not at first.

"Grey Ashes ..." primes a listener's expectations for doom metal. It's a great song, the first five slow-building minutes are doomy, creeping-through-the-musty-old-house-searching-for-the-vampire's-coffin-with-stake-in-clammy-hand music. The closing section of the song is that raucous moment when the creature awakes and the hunter becomes the hunted. It's bloody, it's messy and that sort of thing can be enjoyable in small doses.

The opening song (and short introduction before it) sets the atmosphere to "dense fog of dread". When the next song, "Eve of the Beholder" rolls in, it upsets the atmospheric balance, completely changing how I heard the album over the course of the next handful of listens. It's a quick two minute blast of death metal which re-primes the ear. It's a jarring sequence to say the least. I didn't realize how thoroughly doomy the next two tracks, "Let the Dragon Be My Guide" and "Reino Sangrento" are. Though they are both nearly eight minutes long, their collective mood is eclipsed by the two-minute "Eve ...". Then, just as the ear is re-adjusted, the last half of (also two-minute long) "Push Angie Back Into the Swamp" throws another blast beat at the listener.

It took me quite a few listens to get there but I see how the native language of this album is doom metal. The riffs are blackened in the style of another of my favorite bands, Head of the Demon which this album slightly reminds me of and the blast beats are few and far between. When they do appear, they leave a truly long-lasting impression on the atmosphere of the album, for better or worse. Those tempestuous moments increase tension, and the tension heightens the atmosphere of the album's doomy moments.

'Cauldron Messiah' is steeped in enough tomb-like horrific atmosphere that it could easily qualify for a Horrible Nights post. It's for this reason that I find myself fascinated by this album. I'm drawn to it repeatedly and there's no signs of slowing down yet, the pendulum arcs ever downward.

Rating: ««««½ / 5

Evil Spirit facebook

'Cauldron Messiah' is available on LP and cassette on the Horror Records bandcamp page and from their own webshop

Horror Records webpage


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