It is fair to say that Finnish doom metallers Cardinals Folly is a band you are going to take to or not. Certainly there is a middle ground too where intrigue keeps attention and thoughts embraced in interest and indecision over the band though listening to new album Our Cult Continues!, it seems to demand adoration or avoidance with little in between. Cardinals Folly is not a band to just soundtrack an hour of simple listening pleasure is soon obvious as the band’s second album challenges the senses.
Released via Shadow Kingdom Records, Our Cult Continues! is a dark trespass of ears and thoughts with a generally crawling pestilential persuasion which at times ignites the imagination as forcibly as it violates the senses. It can be a riveting intrusion with imposing heavy riffs and deeply permeating rapacious grooving but also a lingering threat which loses its potency through the length of songs, a seeming aversion to spread its creative wings, and the daunting challenge of the vocals where notes are often dishevelled and squeezed of flavour. As mentioned it is not going to be for all but it must also be said that it left a compulsion to investigate the release again and again and is definitely likely to lure the appetite of those with a passion for bands like Reverend Bizarre and Electric Wizard. For sure it needs time to make its persuasion a full argument, with still no guarantees of success, but if band and album clicks with wants it has the potency to make for a unique test and enjoyment.
Formed in 2004 as The Coven and called Cardinals Folly since 2007, the Helsinki based trio of vocalist/bassist Mikko Kääriäinen, guitarist Juho Kilpelä, and drummer Sebastian Lindberg soon made an impression with their first pair of EPs, 2008’s Heretic’s Hangover and Orthodox Faces the following year. Two years on the band signed with Shadow Kingdom and unleashed debut album Such Power is Dangerous!, again to strong responses which the new release is sure to emulate with those holding a taste for the band’s distinct takes on doom metal.
Opening with the evocative and cinematic Chant of Shadows, the album makes an imagination poking entrance. It is not a hugely dramatic start, but an introduction to the dark realms and sinister devilry of the band which holds enough coaxing for fans and newcomers to take the plunge into the hellish depths of Our Cult Continues! As its satanic call drifts away the following Morbid Glory steps forward and soon presses ears with acidic grooves and hollow but pushy rhythms. There is an immediate shallowness to the production which takes time to acclimatise to but is not as big a leap to embrace as the vocal tones of Kääriäinen. With a voice which flirts with melodies whilst infusing a monotone lilt equipped with tonal alienation, the bassist croons and serenades throughout the track and album with varying success. It is another aspect to get used to and will of all the things about Cardinals Folly, probably be the biggest test for many, but to be honest it is also something to gradually warm to and embrace in the singers potent moments and hold reservations over in their less momentous turns. The song itself lurches and lumbers with ravenous intensity and labour intensive predation to seduce ears and rile the senses.
The Black Baroness makes a greater impression than its more than decent predecessor with a carnivorous throat to the bass and sonic enterprise from the guitar. There is a punk air to the acidic strokes of Kilpelä, riffs an abrasing antagonism and the meandering chords bleeding whispers of Spizzenergi and The Pack. With a healthier contagion to its bait, it crawls potently through body and mind before passing over to the oppressive rapacity of the title track. A thick web of riffs and blunted rhythms, the track is appealing smog of sound and intent, a sonic cloud veined with an engaging raw groove and a moment of bewitching clarity. Vocally too the song is persuasive, Kääriäinen better in an aural crowd than providing a driving lead in many ways.
The virulent surging of Sighisoaran comes next, the song a torrential abrasion held on a slight rein as it rampages and an even shorter lead in its slow consumptive twist of primal voracity. As most tracks it is a proposition which takes time to explore and come to terms with in many ways but ultimately provides an uncompromising assault enhanced by the great guttural snarl of the bass and a keen repetitious incitement. Like the majority of songs it is also border line on whether outstaying its welcome length wise, though when things begin to labour the band does throw in a timely twist to pull back any negativity a little.
The pair of Walvater Unveiled and The Lover´s Crypt smothers the listener in a sonic causticity and vocal starkness to again challenge and solidly persuade. The first is a lumbering expanse of venomous riffs and demanding rhythms which from an underwhelming opening evolves with scorched grooves and another potently gripping bass temptation to enthral. Its successor brings a more classic heavy metal breath in its melodic toxins and healthy doom swagger on its way to sculpting one of the bigger highlights of the album. The song also invites a richer invention and imagination from the band which in turns flirts with the listener to greater effect as it creates another reason to give Our Cult Continues! time before deciding its fate.
Last track Fallout Ritualist provides, despite its far too long a presence, a highly convincing conclusion to the album, its Sabbath-esque swagger of riffs and incendiary grooves along with the previous track crafting the best part of the album with ease.
Even after numerous visits Our Cult Continues! still leaves us undecided; its raw production defuses as much as it enhances and with a vagueness of imagination at times, the album seems to be an adventure of missed opportunities. Yet it also makes for a compelling proposition to keep considering. Cardinals Folly is one for the individual and to be honest the only way to know if they are for you is to allow them a chance to challenge and convince.
Our Cult Continues! is available via Shadow Kingdom Records now @ http://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/our-cult-continues
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