Cult of Endtime
In Charnel Lights

You never know what you’re going to get from Finland’s Svart Records. I suppose you could say that their staple genre is doom, but within that it could either be the stoner/doom of bands like Domovoyd, Acid King, and Pombagira, the death/doom of Vainaja, Kuolemanlaakso, and Heavydeath, Essenz’s patented black/doom, or the more progressive/psychedelic approach of Garden of Worm and Seremonia. But, on top of that, they release a slew of other styles ranging from the avant garde black metal of Oranssi Pazuzu and the occult rock of Jess and the Ancient Ones to the synthwave of Nightsatan and whatever the hell Tähtiportti, Eero Koivistoinen Quartet, and E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr are. They’ve also been known to reissue classic Finnish death metal from bands like Rippikoulu, Abhorrence, and Demilich. So, the fairly standard nature of Cult of Endtime is somewhat of a departure for the label, but the above standard quality makes the band fit right in.

In a genre with most bands trying to be the most brutal, epic, technical, evil, cavernous, old-school, whatever else you can think of, the middle of the road can actually be refreshing. It’s also a good place to focus on things like, ya know, actual riffs and songwriting. This is the lane that these Finnish neophytes tread on this full-length debut — the lane of the mid-paced, semi-melodic, and direct. That could easily mean boring, but Cult of Endtime has the chops to make it memorable and damn enjoyable with a sound firmly rooted in the meaty, rockin’ Scandinavian death metal of bands like Edge of Sanity and Mordicus and perpetuated by current acts like The Grotesquery and Revolting, but with the pace and groove of Soulless-era Grave. You could call it “old-school,” but it’s a style that’s really more timeless than retro.

Some doomy plodding sneaks its way into tracks like “Prognatus De Sigillum” and “Hidden Gods,” but the overall feeling of the album is that of a kaiju confidently strolling through a city, toppling buildings without effort. This menacing swagger is no more obvious than in the massive, infectious grooves of “Cairns on Mercury,” undoubtedly one of the year’s catchiest death metal songs. Even though this and most other tracks serve up instant gratification like a platter of bacon covered…anything, there are enough twists and turns, flashes of speed, and atmospheric subtleties to add depth and stave off monotony. The guitars and bass certainly bring the riffs and the heavy, but what elevates this album even more are the varied drumming and vocals. You don’t often hear about memorable drumming, but I found Sami Ratilainen’s tight, creative fills and phrases bouncing through my head just as much as the riffs. The vocals of Heikki Miettinen are equally powerful and agile, recalling Dan Swanö at his most rabid.

I have to admit that I initially disregarded In Charnel Lights as too safe, but it embedded itself in my brain and kept me coming back. Even if it was the most progressive album that I ever heard, it would be worthless if it couldn’t do that. There are plenty of other bands out there trying to push the boundaries. Cult of Endtime is just here to kick ass, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
June 17th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick K

    Awesome review Adam. Very solid record.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    yeah this is really good.


  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Need to check this out. That embedded track sounds killer.


  4. Commented by: Adam

    Thanks, Nick! Luke, the whole album is embedded there. They just have it set to start on track 2. Open it up in Bandcamp and give the whole thing a listen.


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