ALBUM REVIEW Cybernetic Witch Cult - Absurdum Ad Nauseam
Cybernetic Witch Cult. I love this band’s name. It’s a name
that sounds unmistakably metal! It’s a name where each individual
word inspires a wealth of rock iconography that stimulates the imagination
while together they provide a large clue to what makes this band tick.
Lyrically, Sci-Fi themes play a major part, and musically it would seem
this band draws influence from those pioneering early years of rock
and metal, where dark arts and sinister forces went hand in hand with
riffs and volume. For those new to the name, as I was, Cybernetic Witch
Cult are a stoner metal band with a huge doom sound and an interesting
psychedelic edge. They wouldn’t sound out of place on a bill with
Hawkwind, Electric Wizard, Cathedral, and Black Sabbath.
I usually find this style of music to be best experienced in a live
setting, preferably a small low ceiling basement club venue where the
power of sound can feel all encompassing, where the low end rumble shakes
walls and makes drinks ripple in their glasses, where the thud of drums
punches one’s breath away, where the crunch and fuzz of guitar
electrifies the air and tingles the spine. It can be such a difficult
thing to recreate on record, to capture the sensory overload of the
live show, to build a wall of sound that traverses the senses without
relying on pure volume to do the job.
Not so with Absurdum Ad Nauseam, the new album from Cybernetic
Witch Cult (their third). Much kudos should be given to Sam Thredder,
who engineered, mixed and mastered the record at The Crow’s Nest
in London. The sound has great depth and feels alive even when played
quietly, with all the subtle details there to be heard in their own
space, and when it’s cranked up the whole thing merges into one
glorious block of power that is more than capable of rattling the neighbour’s
pictures off their walls.
Typically, the songs are long, allowing the grooves to build and the
doomy drone to become its most hypnotic. In tracks like Cromagnonaut
time is given for those almighty power chords to properly announce their
presence, so those gorgeous tones can be properly explored. War Pigs
guitar trills add a knowing nod to their metal heritage, and man, do
those drums thud good! This is the most uptempo track of the album,
with riffs by the bucket load and a sweet buzzing guitar chug throughout.
The song really shifts and how the bass keeps the groove nailed through
the guitar solo is sheer bliss.
As mentioned, the lyrical themes are inspired by a love for Sci-Fi,
exploring ideas with a human angle, anything from life in a computerised
simulation to highly evolved space whales escaping climate change(!).
Enter The Cetacean. There’s a cool trippy vocal effect
here, reminiscent of that in Led Zep’s No Quarter, one of many
similar psychedelic touches throughout the album. Continuing in the
hallucinogenic vein is Ivory Tower, a nine minute epic which
spans the entire gamut of retro vibes. A subtle whirly Hammond ramps
up the authentic feel too.
The Myth of Sisyphus deals with Absurdist philosophy, a slow
winding dirge that shifts between expansive riffs to gentle eastern
motifs via some fantastic drum work around the kit. There are times
it feels so spiritual I can almost smell the incense. Spice,
their tribute to the Sci-Fi classic Dune, is possibly the heaviest sounding
track, and consequently lacks many of the subtleties and dynamics of
the rest of the album, but again, there’s big riffs and the tempo
is right for a venue full of heads to bang to.
Cromagnonaut aside, the other stand–out track for me
comes in two parts and bookends the album... Where Hypercomputer
Part 1 sets the mood for what is to follow Part 2 finishes
the record in style, reprising everything that makes this record a must
have for fans of the stoner genre. It’s another nine minute epic,
the tasteful playing from all three band members refined to the point
that the track becomes an entirely immersive hypnotic experience, the
trance broken by the last lyric of the song, and its freakishly weird
vocal effect. Guitar noise, feedback and more general spacey weirdness
bring things to a close, the same way the album begins in fact so leave
the album on repeat for seamless listening. Cybernetic Witch Cult…
Absurdum Ad Nauseam… what a trip!
The album is available now (released 6th Dec 2019).
Buy it now from their bandcamp,
or at iTunes.
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