You know when you hear people talking about what it takes to be the best, and all.
And so many times, the point is made that it’s just about turning up. Constantly turning up.
And then all of a sudden, after years and years, people are finally regarded as leading lights.
It’s getting a bit like this with Zealot Cult.
Their stubborn persistence in just doing what they do – and what they have done long before Zealot Cult – is now really starting to bear serious fruit.
Jay, Mick and the guys have plugged away so consistently and diligently at the only way they know how to play that it now sounds effortless.
It sounds exactly like the sum total of all of their influences flowing seamlessly through their veins.
So, following on from the superb ‘Karmenian Crypt’, we now have a ravaging full length that masterfully binds old school Morbid Angel, old school Pestilence and old school Malevolent Creation together with absolutely nobody from the new school of death metal for hard, tight and powerful death metal full frontal.
In fact – just like ‘Karmenian Crypt’ actually – the opening is so Morbid Angel it’s almost comically brilliant.
But it’s pure knowing homage. A hat tip. These guys are quickly into their own vibe as that flanged, tapped riff brings a moody, weighty feeling over proceedings.
Fast when they need to be, slow when they want to be, Zealot Cult just have this game licked.
A cynic would say its too much homage, too much tribute. But this is no Gruesome. There’s a real sense of the foul in Jay’s classic vomit vocals, a truly animalistic quality when the pace steps up.
Yes, ‘Sea Of Suffering’ has all the feel of ‘Where The Slime Live’ (or perhaps ‘Nothing Is Not’?) but again, these are only passing reference points. The way the bass prowls along the floor in this one is something that ol’ Evil D himself should be envious of.
The speed and weight of ‘Repent In Flames’ is absolutely invigorating – death metal exactly like it used to be in the hardest possible sense, but recalling the nasty power of more modern bands like Dawn Of Azazel with that killing instinct.
So too that speed in ‘Thy Will Be Done’ (more nods to the Ancient Ones!) – they’re just absolutely ravishing across all of this.
Perhaps the album’s only true surprise is the closer ‘In The Shadow Of The Beast’, an expansive, more musically thoughtful epic clocking in at a long (for them) 7 mins, and ranging through an atmospheric blend that even includes a clean guitar or two.
The shape of things to come?
If there’s criticism to be had, yes, it is all high homage. But it’s just so bloody good.
What a stunning debut full length. It’s what you wish the fallen masters were still doing – or even still able to do.
4.4 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 08/10/18