Review: Imperial Cult – Spasm of Light (Amor Fati, Aug 23)

Even disregarding the music found within Spasm of Light (which is not at all something I intend to do) the context of the relatively known ensemble Imperial Cult reads like a who’s who of the pioneering Dutch atmospheric metal scene: members congregate from projects like Turia, Solar Temple, Cryptae, and Iskandr, all of which have released some truly amazing music—a trend that definitely continues with this release. According to one source, the propulsive blast beats and fretboard-climbing riffs are largely improvised, but it doesn’t come across as an arrhythmic congealment like Spit Forth From Chaos; instead, what sounds like a well-versed trio of musicians simply loosen the strings of a more strictly composed piece to create this fluid mass of meditative darkness. Luckily, the track remains engaging throughout its 34 minutes, relying on hypnotic repetition and subtle changes in dynamics to support itself. The metronomic blasting is nothing short of trance-inducing, barely letting up until about halfway through when a more plodding section enters, acting as a brief reprieve before a driving snare build signifies that the inferno’s return isn’t far behind; and return it does, whipping up scathing sonic winds into a forceful, droning ambience that rockets forth until it breaks apart under its own weight.

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