“There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.” [H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep]
It is more than curiosity which fuels the imagination and predacious captivation of the debut album from Squidhead. Inspired by the darkest depths of the nightmare universe of HP Lovecraft, Cult[ist] lures and exposes the listener to unmentionable and unforgettable horrors across eight slices of modern death metal though that is a tag which just does not do it justice. Technically compelling with an array of flavours spun from an additional fusion of industrial and electronic metal, the album is an invasive often venomous encounter but one just imposingly seductive.
With its seeds sown in 2009, Squidhead started in Belgian as the instrumental solo project of The Painter, better known back then as Pierre Minet. The project was officially unveiled at the end of 2013 with the Prohibition EP released a few months later to potent acclaim. It was a stirring adventure for ears and the imagination, Minet’s craft and enterprise striking across its five tracks inspiring thoughts to conjure their own dark tales. As the band ventured upon the live scene, Squidhead has subsequently evolved in personnel and in turn sound. The result of three years creativity, Cult[ist] is an infernal treat of a proposition around the ever magnetic prowess of The Painter. Alongside him The Crawler unleashes tenebrific intimation through his bass and The Orator unveils nightmare realms and imagery with visceral vocal trespasses; each a source of dark tempting more than complementing the eight stringed conjuring of The Painter.
The storm courted opening to the album coaxes ears into the waiting clutches of Abyssal Worshippers, keys hinting as they lay a sinister lure into the waiting web of intrigue and opacity. Swiftly The Painter immerses ears and thoughts with technical adventure, his strings flaming with suggestion and craft but equally as potent settling into the almost carnivorous trap laid by the feral jaws of the bass and The Orator’s throat scarred vocal painting. Having run with the imagination on Squidhead’s previous offering, it was a surprise and initially wrong-footing to have some of the visual interpretation done for us but quickly the band showed there was plenty of room to create one’s own nightmares too.
The great start is immediately built upon by Mantra Of Insanity, the initial spiral of guitar drawing the fierce punches of drums and the gnarly breath of the bass before Orator spills the song’s animus of intent. Even in its rampant state, the track feels like it is stalking the senses, preying on their fears and nightmares whilst teasing with melodic tendrils carrying their own line in devious relish. The bass sadly loses some of its irritability as the song evolves and becomes an incantation like proposal yet it all works perfectly before Awakening stretches it’s carnal and in time more elegant if still rabid appetite led by the ever magnetic endeavour of The Painter. As with all tracks, every listen brings new twists and shadows to explore and similarly each delves into their pits sees the songs blossoming to greater heights.
Through the invasive dynamics and technical claws of the excellent Lucid Nightmares and the murky palette of the equally riveting Mad Painter, band and album entwine the senses in a tapestry of creative cunning and manipulation. Both tracks just enslaved attention and an already greedy appetite for the release while Whispers Of The Deep prowls and summons thoughts with intimidation and atmospheric beauty to match its predecessor’s captivation.
Similarly Torn Skies ignited the psyche and passion with its bordering on barbarous stomp, its rock ‘n’ roll virulent and voracious with spinning webs of guitar accentuating its creative alchemy. Leaving the senses breathless and imagination ablaze, the track is another major rival for best moment within Cult[ist] though the choice does twist and turn among this last quartet of tracks much as they themselves within their seriously tempting bodies.
Verbis Diablo brings the album to a richly alluring close, its more mercurial gait and air posing challenges, perils, and temptations to greedily devour. It is a fine end to an album we hoped big things of due to Prohibition but has revealed a band and sound which has evolved to be a far richer and darker experience, much as the worlds it finds its inspirations in.
Cult[ist] is out now @ https://thesquidhead.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 26/04/2018
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright