I should have known. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I did know, but the memories had faded. And so I asked the band: Who or what is Cyttorak?
Do you know? If you are of a certain age, and gleefully immersed yourself in the magical lore created by Stan Lee and his colleagues at Marvel, and have a better memory than I do, you will know. And if you don’t, hold your questions for a couple of paragraphs. For now, just be aware that the Rhode Island band Cyttorak chose their name from that lore, and if you’re a comic book nerd (as I used to be), you’ve got to fucking love ’em for it.
But apart from expressing a love of comics, the three men behind Cytorrak (the band) chose the name for reasons (at least as I infer them) which have something to do with the kind of music they make — which involves excelsior-level pulverization.
My main memory of Cain Marko — the X-Men villain Juggernaut — is that he could (and did) run through anything and everything. Essentially, he was unstoppable. He made his first appearance in X-Men No. 12 way the hell back in 1965, making him one of the heroes’ oldest adversaries, and he surfaced and re-surfaced often enough that generations of readers know who he is. What I had forgotten is that the source of his power is itself a sprawling back-story of Marvel myth, at the center of which is… Cyttorak.
Cyttorak himself has been a key figure in numerous Marvel story arcs. I’m not going to try to detail all of it, now that I’ve refreshed my memory, but there’s an extensive Wikipedia article all about him here if you’re interested. I’ll just say that Cyttorak is an ancient demon-god whose destructive aspect was sealed within a Crimson Gem — and it was that gem which gave Marko the power of Juggernaut.
Sorry, I’m getting carried away here. I’m supposed to be introducing a song, though to my own way of thinking the preceding discussion is relevant.
The song itself has a name that’s just as fantastical as the band’s chosen name: “Council of 13 Transmogrification Chamber“. As the band have told us, “The song is about a race of ratmen gone insane from communing with the Horned God since birth building a weapon that runs on eldritch power to explode the chaos moon.” I think perhaps we’ve left the Marvel Universe and entered the world of Warhammer, but don’t worry, I’m not going down that rabbit hole (or rat-path). Let’s just get to the music — which is as crushing as Juggernaut and as weird as you’re probably expecting by now.
This particular track doesn’t rampage. It’s more of a lurching stomp at first, but then segues into a giant, jumping, body-moving rhythm with a fat riff that’s an unabashed crusher. The prime instrument is the bass, which is so distorted that it qualifies as toxic waste, though there’s also a shrieking, wailing, brain-boiling guitar solo that spears out of the bass-led demolition job and does indeed sound eldritch. The drumming amplifies the physical compulsiveness of the track, while the raw, blood-spraying quality of the roaring, howling, and screaming vocals could very well be a field recording of subterranean ratmen gone insane.
Think of it as sludge from the Crimson Cosmos.
“Council of 13 Transmogrification Chamber” is the opening track on Cytorrak’s new EP, Underdark Invasion From Beyond the Shadow of the Warp, which features other torturous hymns and wild tales (including one about subterranean elves killing for their spider queen). It will be released by Tor Johnson Records on May 24th. If you like what you hear, you can pre-order the EP via the link below: