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Cauldron Black Ram: Stalagmire

I've listened to pirate-themed bands in the past—I've even seen some perform—and I largely hoped to be done with them. The trouble, as I see it, is that the pirate ideas burn out quickly, kind of like the very weird "talk like a pirate day" that will get you a free donut in certain parts of the U. S. Yes, I'm serious. It happens every year, probably since Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean became a movie franchise. When I listen to heavy metal, though, I want to hear music unburdened by a gimmick. This isn't a ride at a theme park; this is heavy metal. Fortunately, Cauldron Black Ram plays the pirate theme much more successfully than other bands. Yes, they use plenty of sailing and exploring metaphors, especially in their promotional materials, but these guys sound like they've really seen some bad stuff on the high seas.

Remember that part from Melville's Moby-Dick when Pip goes overboard and is stranded at sea for a long time? After he's rescued, Pip can only parse the verb "to look." It's a harrowing moment, a reminder that human perception is not only limited, but troubled, especially in times of real madness. This album isn't Moby-Dick, but it plays to as a similar vibe, one that uncovers despair and decay rather than high-spirited adventure. Consider, for example, song titles like "Maw," "From Whence the Old Skull Came," or "A Litany of Sailor's Sins." This isn't happy stuff; this is music about dark despair, experiences that shock people from their complacency and make it hard to return to normal life.

Musically, Cauldron Black Ram is really just a hybrid of Black and death metal mixed with spitting sludge. There are other styles on display as well, but the whole thing is a slow and brooding journey through darkness. For the curious, check out "A Litany of Sailor's Sins" for a good example of what these guys sound like. I was especially drawn to the low menace of the guitars and the equally creepy vocals. This is dark, but convincing, stuff. Stick around for the closing track "Speliogenesis." The term—which according to the internet has to do with the origin and development of caves—is a signature piece for this band. Do you dare to enter the darkness?

Track Listing:
1. Fork Through Pitch
2. Maw
3. Discarded Death
4. A Litany of Sailor's Sins
5. Bats
6. Cavern Fever
7. From Whence the Old Skull Came
8. The Devil's Trotters
9. Speliogenesis

Added: May 2nd 2014
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1448
Language: english

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