Yeah it’s me again. I haven’t gone on another sabbatical but it is summer, so my time behind the screen is cut to the bare minimum. I hadn’t really planned on reviewing anything in the near future but after I was contacted by the denizens of the Cult of Occult to write some words about their newest album, “Hic Est Domus Diaboli (This is the house of Devil)”, I just couldn’t say no.
I reviewed their previous self-titled release back in March of 2012 and was immediately struck by the constricting and suffocating waves of unrestrained rage that came emanating out of my speakers. A torrential current of ebony water that pounded you into an infinitesimal oblivion, this was the soundtrack to being buried alive, whimpering in pain as your fingernails scrabble bloody gouges in the coffin lid.
Now “Hic Est Domus Diaboli” shows Cult of Occult making several steps towards a more “traditional” area of sludge metal. Epic length tracks are driven along by tortured guitars churning out crawling waves of low-end evil. It is no longer a gushing torrent of fresh blood; it is now a slowly congealing blackened river of scabs and puss.
However this step towards a more “traditional” sound has made them loose some of the elements that made their self-titled release so damn shocking. Their first album was a force to be reckoned with, it was sludge played with a hardcore intent, and it HIT YOU and then left you gasping on the pavement.
The jagged distortion, blood and bile vocals and enough distortion to level a parking complex are still present on this newest endeavour, but now show signs of restraint and new focus that has emerged from the previous insanity. It’s slower, more methodical, with a focus on the eerie and spine-crawling as opposed to the horrifying and spine-severing.
While I do love the sheer ferocity present on their first release, “Hic Est Domus Diaboli” is still a killer album and brings more than its fair share of scalps and severed ears to the dining room table. The songs lurk in the shadows, ever so slowly bringing their dripping fangs closer to your exposed flesh.
With six tracks spreading over an hour, Cult of Occult have given themselves plenty of time to craft towering behemoths of fuzz and then drag them repeatedly across your temples. This brings about one of the more important points of this album; I never once found it boring or repetitive. This can be a major tripping point with sludge bands that constantly dive into epic-length territory but the Cult has pulled together an entirely immersive collection of tracks.
From the opening build of distortion on “In Vino Veritas”, to the scintillating chants and faint chugs of syncopation on “Opus Ad Odio”, Cult of Occult show themselves as much more thoughtful and clever songwriters. It’s howling, it’s evil, it’s visceral and it’s goddamn entertaining.
Two final points I would like to make. First of all if you have the option of watching this album on oscilloscope visualization, like the one in Foobar 2000, I highly suggest you do so. The drones and howls of extended feedback and distortion make for some really fucking cool shapes and nothing is as cool as watching sound.
Finally I’d also like to say Cult of Occult have one of my favorite screamers of all time. The sheer range, ferocity, tone and physical power make for one the most evil sounding bastards in metal.
So there. I’m done blabbering. “Hic Est Domus Diaboli” is available on Bandcamp for a name your price option, but word is if you float the album for free a horde of winged rattlesnakes will devour your eyes and lay eggs in your skull. You have been warned.