Some weeks back, on one of our various social media outlets, a few fellow writers and I were extolling the virtues of Martyrdod, and somewhere in the convolution of the conversation, we came to a point wherein former Last Rites-er Atanamar Sunyata pointed me in the direction of Cruz’s Culto Abismal. And what a damned good recommendation that turned out to be.
Though they’re markedly more death than Martyrdod’s melodic punk-metal, Cruz occupies a similar sonic realm, with the thick, crusty tones and the d-beat influences. Eschewing Martyrdod’s trademark Bathory-indebted Viking melodies, the Spaniards in Cruz are more the product of that Wolfbrigade / Skitsystem Scandinavian crustiness mixed with punk-y Swedeath and Bolt Thrower’s monolithic In Battle There Is No Law. Thus, Culto Abismal’s formula is a little less original, a little less distinctive, but woe upon you if you think that makes it any less destructive.
The debut full-length from this Catalonian quintet, Culto was recorded all the way back in 2015, originally released digitally back in May of 2016, and then again across multiple formats by the likes of Selfmadegod, Neatherthal Stench, To The Death, and Sentient Ruin. After all that, it sees another vinyl release through Sentient Ruin at the end of January 2017, so it’s both old and new for anyone, like me, who somehow missed it the first however many times.
Like the straightforward death of a Dismember or latter day Bolt Thrower, this is a bulldozer beast of a record, filled with catchy riffs and relentless forward momentum, that one-two beat pushed to overdrive with gnarled guitar riffs on top. Opening track “Mundos Disformes” rips forward for most of its runtime before dropping to a perfectly executed midtempo swagger. “Intruso” is full-force Swede-styled death metal greatness, lifted to even greater heights by another late-entry tempo shift and catchy riff. “La Caza” is another swaggering blast of nearly perfect death metal, as is the biting and carving guitar-work of “Tumbas Ciclopeas,” fading into a haunting piano motif just as the carnage subsides.
There’s nothing new under the sun, I hear, and that’s fine because the sun set long ago on whatever grave spawned Cruz. This particular mash-up of filth-ridden punk and blistering metal has been done before, but only in its finest hours has it been done this engagingly, and that’s certainly enough to keep me coming back. Just like a good persistent little zombie, Culto Abismal is coming back around one more time to devour those of us left behind.
Plus, with all the horrific imagery that death metal has employed throughout the years, you have to give props to a band that chose to name themselves after one of the scariest things of all…