Tuesday, July 22, 2014
…appearing to the frightened as an angel of death: CARDINAL WYRM – ‘Black Hole Gods’
One of the most unique albums to be released this year that is rooted in the traditional doom mold belongs to Bay Area end-of-day seers Cardinal Wyrm. ‘Black Hole Gods’, the band’s second full-length, is an oppressive and oftentimes dissonant affair that finds the trio not only dabbling in the hallowed rites of doom metal, but also plaiting a majority of the tracks with elements of sludge and occasional gothic textures.
Perhaps the most divisive factor in regards to the music of Cardinal Wyrm revolves around the vocals of singer/drummer Pranjal Tiwari whose deep, authoritative bellows are reminiscent of the vocals found in Reverend Bizarre, The Wandering Midget, or even Atomic Cries. Though there are similarities in vocal tone Tiwari’s delivery has an ominous, almost blindly fanatical resonance appropriate for prophesying cataclysmic events or keeping one’s sheep-like followers enthralled. When the occasion arises Tiwari can be quite expressive, accenting his delivery with rasps and death-growls, and his vocal melodies are often responsible for many of the songs hooks. Album standout “Born in a Barren Land”, despite the groove, blistering leads and overall catchiness, is driven primarily by Tiwari’s vocal melodies and emphasis on sibilants midway through the track. The four-minute long wind-down—where groove turns to wounded crawl—is nothing short of brilliant.
The brief “Warden of the Swans” is probably the most distinctive tune amongst the collection and breaks the album up nicely. The simple repetitive use of organ adds an ominous overtone to the song that is accented by Tiwari’s surreal, mystical musings. “I am the Doorway”, another album highlight, builds slowly with a dissonant beauty that is suggestive, in tone, of Joy Division. Accompanied by a rising tide of tribal drums “I am the Doorway” eventually erupts into a heaving monster of track. Periodic sound bites, killer riffs, and some of the album’s most memorable basslines make this track truly standout.
‘Black Hole Gods’, at its heart, is essentially a doom album that is filtered through various influences. Minimal and tasteful use of synth and organ adds a depth and ambience that sets the album apart from their debut, ‘Another Holy Trinity’. Moments of goth-rock, sludge, punk, and death-doom are perceptible to different degrees, yet are always fleeting. The chant-like primitivism of opener “Deep Within”, the melancholy organ driven hymnal “Warden of the Swans”, and the synth accented repetitive rocker “Cult of the Coiled Spine” sees Cardinal Wyrm pushing their creativity into new and interesting directions. Those who have checked out the band’s debut and have liked what they’ve heard will totally dig ‘Black Hole Gods’—kickass doom that walks a precarious tightrope while balancing melodicism and dissonance.