Cauldron Black Ram: Stalagmire

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Cauldron Black Ram: Stalagmire
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Cauldron Black Ram: Stalagmire
Black Metal, Death Metal
20 Buck Spin
April 1st, 2014
Release length: 33:05
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Hailing from Australia, Cauldron Black Ram has been lurking about the underground Black and Death Metal worlds since dropping their self-titled first demo in 1997. After a split with Misery’s Omen and an EP in the years to follow, the band issued their debut album Skulduggery in 2004. It took six years before anything new came from them, which was the 2010 follow-up Slubberdegullion, also released through Weird Truth Productions. It hasn’t been quite as long, but Cauldron Black Ram return again for 2014 with their third studio album, Stalagmire, this time through 20 Buck Spin Records. But has all this time nurtured the group further, or is this effort a bland addition to the genre?

Stalagmire has a very bass heavy audio quality, causing the distortions to end up thin compared to the louder buzzing that comes through. While the music isn’t as engrossing due to it, the songs are still pretty catchy thanks largely to the rhythms laid out by the bass guitar and drums. “Fork Through Pitch” isn’t the most dynamic, but the mixture of mid-tempo performances and some complex riffs from time to time establish a dark, rougher experience you can’t help but bob your head along to. The instrumental “Cavern Fever” has a nice twang to the bass, finding the distortion a lot deeper overall on the lead riffs. The drums also sound a bit buried in the mix, but it works for what the band is going for. This ends up the polar opposite of the melodic “Speliogenesis,” a haunting piece of classic Black Metal in the vein of Emperor.

But what really sticks out are the Doom heavy cuts. It’s subtle on “Maw” with its melancholic melody at work before shifting to an early Black Metal chug and dulled rougher vocals. The speed picks up towards the end, retaining the darker tone, but the mood greatly shifts to more of a Hardcore personality. It’s unfortunate, but doesn’t do much damage in the long run. “From Whence the Old Skull Came” has a slow marching chug to it draped in a vast emptiness that makes the echoed vocals sound like they are everywhere, as if bouncing off walls while drum sticks click around like rattling bones, and chains rattle later on, making the dismal tone even more burdening. “A Litany of Sailor’s Sins” doesn’t have much of an emotional pull, but the restrained slower pace is highly infectious, sometimes leaning towards a tribal pattern that can become hypnotic after a while. By the half way point things become a more chaotic, starting with random spurts from the bass kicks before exploding into a brief guitar solo fuelled whirlwind of pent up tension.

Stalagmire is what could easily be called “controlled hatred.” Cauldron Black Ram do a superb job at restraining their performances, shifting between moody and haunting atmospheres, right down to Doom Metal laced rituals and hollow surroundings. It’s an interesting slab of what the underground is about without going over-the-top or becoming highly minimalistic. It’s a shame the distortions weren’t a little richer, and even some shifts in speed a little more fluid. But with these being the only major downfalls, Stalagmire ends up the kind of album fans of the darker side of music can enjoy even in the most relaxed of surroundings.

01. Fork Through Pitch – 3:19
02. Maw – 3:21
03. Discarded Death – 4:08
04. A Litany of Sailor’s Sins – 4:16
05. Bats – 3:38
06. Cavern Fever – 2:36
07. From Whence the Old Skull Came – 3:13
08. The Devil’s Trotters – 4:14
09. Speliogenesis – 4:22
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Cauldron Black Ram

Digital review copy of this release provided by 20 Buck Spin Records via Earsplit PR.