Before I begin, let me get this off my chest: I wasnt a big fan of Cult Rituals EPs. I dont mean to offend. Its very possible that the glowing reviews from punk blogs across the web had me convinced that I was about to experience some sort of musical enlightenment. Listening to Cult Ritual would somehow turn my life around, I would see the light, and whatever uncertainties I had about hardcore in general would suddenly vanish. Well, this wasnt exactly the case, however I still found those EPs to be pretty decent. Noisier, discordant, Black Flag influence punk? Yeah, Im down with that. But after giving those records a spin, I just remember telling myself, Alright. Well, that was pretty cool. Whats next? Dont get me wrong, that second EP was absolutely killer, but I couldnt help but feel just a tad bit misled. So when I learned their first full-length would drop earlier this summer, I can assure you that I wasnt ready to celebrate by running down the street, screaming at random passers-by that I had suddenly discovered the missing piece of my life. No, that would be silly. Looking back, however, I probably should have.
I cant quite say what exactly separates Cult Ritual from the majority of hardcore punk releases, seeing as the differences in their sound can be so subtle at times. But the addition of a sickly warm production, a few more melodic chords thrown in, and of course, raging vocals bathed in static and white noise couldnt hurt. Yes, its been done before (what hardcore these days hasnt?), but something about Cult Ritual makes them come as being a few steps ahead of the pack.
The opening track, Holidays can best be described as a sonic behemoth, emerging from a pool of feedback and electronic snippets, before violently clawing and tearing at you with thrashy fast paced hardcore. Its just a wonderful moment of pure audible madness! This seems to be the general trend of the first five tracks, culminating in the discordant yet lushly melodic Failed. Everything flows very nicely as well thanks to the use of noisy soundscape interludes which help connect the tracks and maintain the intense atmosphere of the album.
After brushing ahead at breakneck speeds, the album takes a swift turn. Saturdays Blood keeps you on your toes with over three minutes of simplistic yet strangely uncomfortable drumming. Its a bit monotonous, but after being mawed by those first five tracks, its sort of nice to have a couple moments to bandage up those shredded eardrums (it sounds painful, I know, but your inner masochist will love it). Just when that drum beat starts to get a bit unnerving, the track vomits forth an overload of thick and abrasive mid-paced punk.
Then comes the b-side - two songs, nearly eighteen minutes! Last Time, clocking in at five and a half-minutes, kicks things off with shimmering guitar over some sampled dialogue before melting into a cathartic burst. The final track, Cancer Money closes the album on a thunderous note. While not as fast-paced as some of the tracks, Cancer Money lumbers in at twelve minutes under the weight of sheer heaviness. Eventually the album dissipates into an abyss of static drone and before you know it, its all over.
That about sums it up. Cult Ritual has managed to cement themselves as one of the leading bands in the scene. The EPs are great and worth checking out, but this album is just better. Unfortunately, itll be quite difficult finding a reasonably priced copy of this record, seeing that the first batch of them sold out pretty quick (a few of them are probably floating around eBay, although I would imagine them to be ridiculously priced). Luckily, the band has uploaded most of their stuff on their website, so getting a hold of the music shouldnt be too difficult. So there you have it. Forgive me, Cult Ritual, for having doubted you before. Now excuse me while I run outside to scream at some more random passers-by.
8.5 / 10
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