Saturday 19 April 2014

Cauldron Black Ram - Stalagmire (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 1/4/2014
Label : 20 Buck Spin

STALAGMIRE, album track listing :

1). Fork through Pitch 03:19
2). Maw 03:21
3). Discarded Death 04:05
4). A Litany of Sailors Sins 04:16
5). Bats 03:35
6). Cavern Fever 02:36
7). From Whence the Old Skull Came 03:13
8). The Devil’s Trotters 04:14
9). Speliogenesis 04:22

Bio :

Following a deuce of LPs disbursed through cooperative alliances with Weird Truth Productions, Blood Harvest and Parasitic, among a random gaggle of demos and EPs since their 1997 formation, the latest tirade from this crew of bandits from Adelaide shows CAULDRON BLACK RAM once again utilizing tactics learned in previous voyages through treacherous doom and death territory. However, the Stalagmire be the grandest onslaught from this brutal seafaring trio yet, with the pungency of an armada’s worth of bilge rats and bellowing with the might of a thousand cannons.

Stalagmire will invade ports and pillage villages in North America on April and in Europe April 4th via CD, LP and digital deployment methods.

The crude horde that be the CAULDRON BLACK RAM emerge yet once more from wat’ry tomb to besiege hapless poseurs and put to manacles weak would be picaroons. Being the third of albums to sail under the banner of CBR, the new recording is a commanding effort of sludgy crossboned black death metal and slimy, rum-sodden doomed debauchery. The brigands from the far side of the world prove well versed in the execution of this unfair trade, delivering knavish punishment unto unprepared ears in the form of Stalagmire. This scurrilous tale puts CAULDRON BLACK RAM in league with similar ugly contemporaries who pay heed to old, distasteful gods and outlaw tradition but yet forge a singular path of their own making. Be it black, death, doom or thrash, all goes into the strange brew mixed in the CAULDRON BLACK RAM.

Review :

Australia's Cauldron Black Ram have been knocking about since the heady days of 1996, it would appear. In all honesty before this latest effort for 20 Buck Spin I was completely unaware of them. 'Stalagmire' is death doom that sees the light of day (or not) in a 12 month span populated by heavyweight punches to the gut from the likes of Autopsy, Coffins and Vastum. Can they hold up against the gauntlet already laid down before them?

'Fork Through Pitch' is highly reminiscent of the slow groove that permeates throughout the work of Six Feet Under, as well as some vocal similarities to what Barnes will growl out for that band. From this listener that comes as high praise, I loves me some SFU. The lead work isn't quite as murky though and the guitars don't sound like they were recorded under a swamp. Now while that might put a lot of you off it is by no means a constant for the whole album, and goes a long way towards accurately illustrating how much the band are willing to mix it up between raw and smooth. It shows a discerning ear.

Further to that point, the track that immediately follows on is both filthy and foggy in equal measure. 'Maw' (presumably nothing to do with SL scribe Richard) is a looser number, less refined in an intentional way. Initially soaked in melancholic doom longing, it quickly trades that in for death influenced straight metal that is full of gallop at times.

'A Litany of Sailor's Sins' comes with some sludge crush attached to its hip as a bonus. I'm loving how the band can quite easily pull the trigger on upping the pace whenever it suits them, but to me their best work is anchored in the zombie snail territory.  Vocals that are not performed so much as spat out, like nobody wants those words in their mouth any longer than they absolutely have to. Pretty vile, and a star trait for the sound that they choose to pursue.

Pick of the rotten bunch though is 'From Whence The Old Skull Came'.  Just real, undiluted demonic crush. A riff so vehemently weighty and savage that it nearly bit off my leg, and in my madness I would have pursued it like a white whale. Years later I would have lost my ship, my life and the successful use of my neck muscles, in that order. Slow, sullen, heaving and pounding, it's an absolute knuckle dragging Neanderthal of a tune that stops without warning. So sad when it does, but I cling to the fond memories of a time while it lasted.

So yeah, 'Stalagmire' manages to hold it's own against the top death doom releases of the last year. Maybe not as relentlessly heavy as Coffins, but certainly the equal of many of their peers.  Well worth a sniff if you dig your slothful sounds laced with morose thought. Check 'em out.

Words by : Matt Fitton

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