Cult Cinema: Iscariot

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Cult Cinema: Iscariot
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Crystal Viper: Legends
Black Metal, Hardcore
Siege of Amida Records
March 6th, 2012
Release length: 19:53
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Cult Cinema is a little known band from London, UK, and are sure to raise some hell in the Metal world. Not because their material is good, but rather due to their mixture of Hardcore, with a heavy dose of Depressive Black Metal. Given the poor reception that bands like Winds of Plague have received, mixing the Black Metal style with any sort of “-core” influence seems like a really bad move. But, Siege of Amida Records picked up this young group to issue their debut EP, Iscariot, to the unsuspecting underground masses. This is indeed a bold move for the label, but is it one worth it?

Going into this album, it’s hard to really predict what is coming your way. The EP opens up with “Akeldama” and a rather haunting, b-movie style instrumental piece. Around the forty second mark, the guitars start to fade in, and the song quickly explodes with a slight Black Metal foundation and haunting Hardcore chords for a very brief introductory passage. The high pitched wailing screams are the first thing anyone will take notice of, easily being some of the strongest vocals of this type you’ll find. “The Beloved Disciple” does include some background shouting, as if gang chants, but they end up only showing here and there. The guitars have more of a Hardcore attitude-driven distortion to them, giving off the sense of a rebellious intent outside the colder chords of the slower depressive passages. This establishes varied atmospheres that keep the music fresh most of the time. The bass isn’t that loud, but you can still easily pick up on it and the contributions it makes. But, during the slower depressive passages, you’ll find the impact from this instrument to be a lot stronger in comparison. The snares have a thickness to them that works with the commanding bass kicks you can easily feel, and the cymbals crash loudly, being a little in the distance to not drown anything out.

With a superb audio quality and introduction already established, it’s easy to dismiss this release if you aren’t expecting the Hardcore presence. For the most part, that influence is pretty obvious, but the two styles end up mixed together very well. “The Beloved Disciple” and “Tormentor” really show it more than anything else, and one might even look at some of the riffs here and mistake them for Mathcore. But, some of the slower passages really present a nice humbling of Black Metal, establishing some great atmospheres in a depressive fashion that gives the songs a great bite, as well as plenty of emotion. “The Beloved Disciple” is easily the best example of this thanks to the atmospheric closing that tugs at the heart strings hard, setting a very saddening tone to the climax.

“A Distant and Disconsolate Heart” shows off the bands blacker side better. This one really lays on a darker atmosphere, utilizing more modern Black Metal chords with a slight Hardcore attitude to them. Of course there is a nice depressive passage that opens up a little later on for the guitar solo, moving at a pretty slow pace to work in a colder tone that can easily chill your fingers before building back up to the hard-hitting mid-tempo mixture once more, carrying the grim lead chords from the previous build well as they are amplified by the energetic Black Metal influenced high pitched screams. This makes for a nice segway into the much longer “The Betrayer (Tomb of the Brave).” The nearly eight-and-a-half minute song holds a slight Hardcore start, but around the three-minute mark it all changes into a serious Depressive Black Metal state again, and it’s just beautiful. This instrumental passage feels more like an additional song than an expansion of “The Betrayer (Tomb of the Brave),” and the emotion the builds with this as it grows richer is simply moving. The only gripe is the Hardcore finish that it leads into that doesn’t quite suit it, nor need to be there. This is followed by an organ outro that just doesn’t work thanks to what led up to it.

No matter how you look at it, Iscariot is a very impressive EP. Cult Cinema pack so much energy into this effort, blending Depressive Black Metal and a Swedish brand of Hardcore so well that it genuinely weaves a heart racing nineteen minutes of musical intensity and melancholy. From emotionally moving passages to high octane Metal and Hardcore assaults, one spin of Iscariot will leave you wanting more the second it’s over. Fans of the Hardcore genre should definitely take note of this effort, and even the most seasoned Black Metal veteran shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear this EP in full. If you can look past the more obvious outward exterior and bring your mind back to the first wave days of Black Metal, when Punk and Heavy Metal influenced the sound more, you’ll find something rather unique and well composed that will surely justify both your time, and your money.

0. Akeldama – 1:32
0. The Beloved Disciple – 2:47
0. Tormentor – 3:12
0. A Distant and Disconsolate Heart – 3:55
0. etrayer / Tomb of the Brave – 8:27

Overall Score: 9/10
Cult Cinema (band)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Siege of Amida Records via Earsplit PR.