Cult Of Lilith are an Icelandic band that merge so many genres that it is almost difficult to keep up with them. The question “what genre are they?” is just about impossible to answer. They have more varieties to their music than Heinz has for their foods! They themselves (I think having a bit of a laugh at all our expense) say they are “necromechanical baroque”. Proving what I have said before that folks are now just making shit up. If I was pushed I would say that they install lots of elements into progressive death or extreme metal making them a marvellous listen for those who are brave enough to do so. I recommend listening to Mara (for this is the name of the album) all the way through (like we used to do in the old days) as it is less than 40 minutes of music and it flows like a river taking diversions everywhere. Like a fast-flowing river, this moves at a pace for the most part with moments of calm before hurtling at speed over a precipice. I felt like I was on a canoe holding on for dear life and loving every scintillating moment of the ride. For a first album, this is a killer! This band of maniacs (they surely must be on this evidence) are from Iceland and it was originally the idea of one-man Daniel Dor Hannesson who is writer, arranger and guitarist here. They did release an EP back in 2016 called Arkanum but only Daniel featured from this line-up.
The All-Important Songs:
Onto Mara itself. Eight songs of technical semi-classical prog metal (and more) that are all between 3 and 5 minutes so nothing sags at all in any of the tracks. I must admit I was surprised when the first thing I heard on pressing play was a harpsichord! I felt like I was back in days of old, possibly in the court of the (crimson?) king awaiting an important proclamation. When the metal kicks in it comes in hard. The guitar solos are very Malmsteen meets Blackmore (Rainbow). “Purple Tide” opens with synth keys reminiscent of “Ziltoid” by Devin Townsend when he is calling in from outer space. The middle they even throw in some Hammond sounding keys ala Lord (Purple) and Hensley (Uriah Heep).
“Atlas” is wonderfully theatrical and vocalist Mario Infantes Aralos manages to sing, scream, growl and even throw in some operatic moments all in this one track! I have no idea what most of it means or even what language it is in at times and nor do I care. It is just captivating and at times a little scary. Musically this has a lilting opening, genteel but with a whispered vocal that seems threatening. It of course heavies up but still has little playful guitar licks at times adding to the drama. My only complaint is the song isn’t long enough. “Comatose” throws in a crazy breakdown about 1 minute 40 and manages to confound at the end by having a delightful and elegant piano solo outro. Well, why not? Talking of “why not” the band go all flamenco guitar and vocals in “Profeta Paloma” performed by guests Reynar Hauksson (guitar) and Fernando Perez Canada (vocal) who take over a quarter of the track. I feel I need to also name check the drumming of Kjartan Haroarson who not only thunders when required but adds lots of intelligent fills as well. Strangely there is also a little touch of Devin in this as well at one point in the melody.
Closer (and vying for best track for me) “Le Soupir Du Fantome” finishes it all off in great style including what sounds like a mad monk giving us some Gregorian style chanting. I again have no idea what language it is in but it sounds effective and wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. It features acoustic guitar at the start and builds beautifully. It is another track that sucks you in and entertains throughout.
Nearly 40 minutes of mind-boggling fuckery played by obviously incredibly talented musicians who aren’t afraid to let themselves take chances. The only question I have about them is how do they follow this debut? It is a superb work of art and creativity. I admit that I haven’t got the foggiest as to what it is all about but I hardly care as every listen gives me new joys. Bloody magnificent!
Album Out Friday, September 4 On Metal Blade Records
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Tom Cornell
Email Me at: Tom Cornell