Release Date: 15/11/2019
Label: Spikerot Records
Making sad music seems like a no-brainer to some: you get your minor scales and chords, you make sure everything is nice and slow, you get your gloom on, etc. But making something with actual melancholy resounding throughout takes more than imitating Last Fair Deal-era Katatonia.
Enter Naga. These Italian youngsters have been hard at work since 2013 to make a name for themselves in the sludgedoom game and Void Cult Rising is their sophomore effort, following 2014’s Hēn.
What’s on offer in Void Cult Rising is a cocktail. The primary ingredient is churning, sludgy post-metal type riffs delivered at doomy speeds; punctuating drums that serve more for emphasis; grumbling bass and shrieking vocals. All this sets the stage for the occasional black metal moments and clean-picked, softer segments delivered with skill. The resulting overall sound is huge,
But when you’re making this type of music, you are nothing without your atmosphere. Naga, luckily, excels at that. The mood of Void Cult Rising is impeccable. From Only A God Can’t Save Us‘ opening salvoes, the album sucks you right in and captures your interest. It’s immersive, dark, purposefully melancholic and foreboding. It’s like a black metal type mood squeezed into a funeral doomy mood swing fit inside a sludgy package. The spot-on production helps this immensely. The sound is not too clear, not muddy, not too raw. It hits that sweet spot and helps the proceedings.
So far, so good? This is where the positive ends because the album has a big problem. See, Void Cult Rising is a very front-loaded album. After the explosive start of Only A God Can’t Save Us and the shatterproof melancholy of Melete, things start to gradually boil down to post-metal type rigmarole. By the time Thanatou rolls around, the tracks blur together in one amorphous chugga chugga mess. The cruise-control riffing that invariably overshadows tracks pulls everything down. The drumming becomes monotonous at the same tempo and roughly with the same beat every time. This also mars both the black metal breakout moments peppered throughout and the clean-picked segments.
That’s the downfall of Void Cult Rising: there are only enough ideas for roughly less than half of the album, but they are stretched out too thin and belabored way too much. It’s disappointing that a band that obviously has the skill and the mind required to make immersive, melancholic, moody and brilliantly atmospheric music falls so short in the ideas department. But I say if you are in the mood for that kind of thing, check ’em out.
Lorenza de Stefano – guitars, vocals
Emanuele Schember – bass, effects
Dario Graziano – drums
01. Only A God Can’t Save Us
03. Bedim the Sun
06. Void Cult Rising