Saturday, October 28, 2023

Cult of Horror - Hermetik Heretik (2020)

Another impressive band in that South American blackened speed and thrash scene, Cult of Horror deliver the raw, pummeling goods as pioneered by their influences, in a compact, bludgeoning, evil form that will keep you headbanging in a dingy basement forever. Hermetik Heretik is their sophomore full-length, and while the first was pretty decent on its own, this thickens the blood of that style a little without losing any of the menace. Because that is key here, this Brazilian band actually sounds EVIL, they harness all of the creepy, frilly riffing that you love out of groups like Deathhammer or Hellripper, and they do it with some heft to hoist up the speed metal. I don't wanna say that they're d-beat, but they have a similar rocking out feel adjacent to the response I get to a lot of groups within that niche.

The vocalist Pazuzu really adds a lot, not because he's super-nuanced, but his growling, oblique delivery feels as if you're being smothered with rotten mummy-wrappings, there are simply no fucks given here as he growls out sustained lines over the more agile guitar parts, which are constantly catchy even where you've heard them before, but will throw out some surprises when they opt for a more distinctly death metal tremolo picked riff, or a boogie heavy metal groove like they lay down in the depths of "Philosophy of a Knife", even a doom tune in "Promethean Reign". There are often a few riffs that are borderline TOO derivative, such as the opening to "Murder by Witchcraft" which mirrors Slayer's immortal breakdown in "The Antichrist", but I'm willing to bet that this is conscious with no ill intent, rather an attempt to take that vibe and twist it off into some new configuration. This is an exception though, because while they don't exactly write original riffs, nothing else is so obvious, it's all pretty dark and dim and awesome.

I hope some of these groups can get some further exposure, I know acts like Whipstriker and Witchtrap have come around on tour, but I'd love a chance to check out Cult of Horror, Atomic Roar and some of the other underground gems from down there. This guy's voice is grisly and awesome, the material is in general quite oppressive, constantly catchy and well suited to the mix of occult fixation and horror smut that the band covers lyrically; Cult of Horror is certainly that, and what they write is the perfect companion to nights of bad booze, VHS exploitation flicks and an inescapable whiff of blood-drenched leather.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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