SHORT BUT SWEET (PART 2): CAGE OF CREATION, TORCH THE SKY, DEAD SOUL ALLIANCE
This is the second part of a collection of short reviews that I began earlier today (here). The idea was to focus on new EP-length releases I had recently discovered and enjoyed, though the ones addressed below are substantial — all of them in the 24-to-26-minute range.
CAGE OF CREATION
The first release in this collection (III) is the final part of a trilogy of EPs by the Russian trio Cage of Creation. It was released on March 4th. I became enamored of it almost immediately, from the first ringing, scratchy notes, the burly bass line, and the dark chant in the opening track, “Act IX”.
That song eventually begins to heave and rock, and then it races and gallop, bounds and cavorts, and blasts in a frenzy. The song is threaded with tendrils of strange melody, with swirling and darting arpeggios and shimmering riffs, and the vocals veer into furious shrieking.
The remaining songs are as eclectic and idiosyncratic as the opener, a hard-to-pin down splicing of black metal, rock, psychedelia, post-metal, and avant-garde experimentalism, with unpredictable variations in the vocals, too. At times it sounds like the backdrop to an infernal carnival, at other times like a drug-assisted trip through a haunted house, at others like the flight path through an astral plane.
I’m most reminded of the demented ingenuity of Hail Spirit Noir, and like that band, Cage of Creation know their way around a melodic hook, even when they’re pulling you way off the beaten path. What an inventive, quirky, and thoroughly fascinating EP this is! I’m compelled now to explore the two preceding EPs in this trilogy. I hope they’re as impeccably twisted as this one is.
The EP is available on Bandcamp now, and a tape edition limited to 60 copies will be released through Devoted Art Propaganda.
Cage of Creation on Facebook:
TORCH THE SKY
I have found very little information about Torch the Sky. Based solely on its Bandcamp page, it appears to be the solo project of New York musician Nick Spadafora. It further appears that Desolation is the project’s debut release, which appeared on Bandcamp on March 12th of this year. The eye-catching cover art is a painting called “L’oro galleggia” by Italian artist Nicola Samori.
I again owe thanks to starkweather for recommending this one to me. In his message he characterized the music as an amalgam of post-metal and sludge, with some up-tempo breaks but mainly “churning down-tempo like Wolcott Falls, Dimensionless, Nightmarer“.
The deep, surging riffs, gravel-throated bass arpeggios, and lumbar-loosening drums have a contrasting counterpart in the upper register, with spectral guitar emanations that shine with a strange phosphorescence and lacerating howls tearing through the neck. It’s crushing and mesmerizing in almost equal degrees. And as noted above, the music also erupts in torrents of swarming abrasion and hammering drums, and bursts of what sound like heavy-caliber armament.
The EP’s overarching air of bleakness, violence, and inexorable catastrophe is also enhanced by interludes of chilling, unsettling ambient sound that appear as alternating tracks.
This is definitely a work that’s best experienced in a straight run from beginning to end, as the tracks bleed into each other. As you pick up the pieces of your mind and body at the end, you’ll be left wondering where the hell you are and where you just came from. Very impressive….
DEAD SOUL ALLIANCE
The two-man operation Dead Soul Alliance hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and their new release is named Slaves To the Apocalypse. I offered some thoughts about the project’s last EP back in 2014, which I quite enjoyed, and this new one proves to be very strong as well.
Drawing from different old-school death metal traditions on both sides of the Atlantic, Dead Soul Alliance are equally adept at bludgeoning, grinding, galloping, and lurching. The music has a morbid, evil atmosphere throughout, mixing deep vibrating riffs that resemble a concrete saw cutting through pavement and melodic leads that slither, sear, and shriek (as well as some mesmerizing soloing).
The music also features skull-fracturing grooves and an array of ghastly, bearlike growls and strangulated howls. On top of all that, the songs are well-written and have a way of getting stuck in the grey matter. I did like this project’s last EP, but this very accomplished new one is a further step ahead and ought to please old school death metal fans of virtually every stripe.
Dead Soul Alliance on Facebook:
Well, Cage of Creation was certainly eclectic. I heard hints of EVERYTHING in there, from Love-and-Rockets and Tom Waits to Behemoth! Vocals especially are so unpredictable. I assume they are singing in Russian? Have to listen to this again.
Dead Soul Alliance was killer. Evil melodies and good lyrics and themes. Love the name of the band, and the names of their songs too. We are all slaves to the apocalypse.