Cultic – Of Fire and Sorcery

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With an album title like this, you just know you’re up to your chain mail in a D&D territory. What you might not have expected is that genre wise ‘of Fire and Sorcery’ is no power metal, no NWOBHM, no new wave of US epic metal like Eternal Champion or anything even close to that. Instead and quite surprisingly, Cultic manifests a particularly raw strain of death/doom laced with some evocative dungeon crawling synth work.

The band started out as the duo and couple Brian and Rebecca Magar who along the line pulled in bass player Reese Harlacker for their 2019 debut ‘High Command’. Both of them have been quite active in other projects like the dark ambient The Owls A.N.T.W.S. Rebecca has proven herself to be quite the visual artist. She herself painted the fantasy inspired cover art which really fits the dungeons and dragons theme very well. You can check out more of her stuff on Wailing Wizard Art.

After a bombastic instrumental that could have come straight out of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, the cauldron really gets cooking on ‘Beseech the Olden Throne’. From the very first tones that come oozing out of your speakers you’ll be immediately reminded of Celtic Frost. Not only in that raw, primal and super heavy guitar tone of the slowly plodding riffs, but also in the Brian’s vocal delivery which is a dead ringer for Tom Gabriel Warrior. If you told me this was all actually recorded in 1987 and had been collecting dust for decades in some dark, forgotten cellar, I’d believe it, no questions asked.

‘Weaver Deceiver’ harks back to the dungeon synth roots the duo had in their more ambient projects. It’s a short minimalistic piece that roars subdued, but menacingly, as if waiting to strike. Stirring the primordial doom soup again with the slowly cooking ‘Potion’, the dynamic duo keeps alternating between doom and instrumental interludes like on the Vangelis-esque ‘Invoking the Dragon’ which segues effortlessly into ‘Warlock’. The riffs and drumming here sound so blunt and bludgeoning it feels as if you’re being pummeled to death by a neanderthal Pict, holding a gnawed off thigh bone as a club.

After the cinematic, almost martial spoken word performance of ‘Sentenced’ comes the vertigo inducing, psychedelic spiral climb towards ‘The Tower’. From high on up the minimalist approach of ‘Leering from the Pinnacle’ then has you staring down the bottomless abyss.Tucked in at the end of the record comes an addendum to the track ‘Iron Castle’ into a particularly noisy, martial dungeon beast that falls silent after a minute or 3. Remember in the early days of the compact disc it was a fad to sneak in a hidden track at the end after a loooong ten minutes of silence?

‘Iron Spider’ is kind of like that. As a final farewell Rebecca even joins in on the gloom with some raspy nasty snarls amidst this somewhat more up-tempo hidden outro.

If you like your doom barbaric and blunt with a blatant disregard for anything younger than the late 80s then by Crom, this is for you!

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 6/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 7/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 9/10
  • Originality 7/10
7.6

A witches’ brew of primal death doom in the vein of Celtic Frost that could have been made in that Hyborian Age known as the eighties.

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