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Review: Cult of Lilith – Arkanum EP

Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Cult of Lilith demonstrated a standard of technical death metal that made Arkanum easily one of my favourite EPs of 2016.

The opening track “Abaddon” is a bouncy breakdown song that is easy to listen to yet a challenge to master. Given the groove intervals, this track is a definite gateway for our core crowd – yet there is nothing remotely core about it. The vocals are the song’s greatest strength purely because the flow and the variation of highs and lows keep it fresh and interesting. The bridge is a pleasant turnaround; this is where the pace and time signatures give the mental image of a hurricane making short work of a rickety chapel and its church organ – keyboard solo and all.

My favourite track is “Tomb of Sa’ir”, this is definitely the one to keep on your driving playlist. Starting with a keyboard intro, the song quickly has the vocal flow, the drums, and the guitar each going their own direction – yet it works perfectly. Genius… The suspense in the verse builds and builds, and when it reaches the climax point, it does not leave listeners disappointed. The remainder of the song continues varying and leading to guitar solos and further interludes to display that tech death does not always have to be a zigzagging burden to get through when done right.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to get into the title track. “Arkanum” is one of the more technical songs on the EP, but I feel the song had way too many stopping and starting points which ultimately led to the groove and flow of the song being compromised. At around the 1:45 mark however, the song is rescued and becomes easier to follow from that point on.

“Detested Empress” is a track I find myself revisiting many times just so that I can hear the guitar solo. The solo is very likely to give listeners eargasms purely because it is a very sweet sounding solo with a very melodic backing. This is the type of solo one wishes could have been longer. Other than that, the song itself is structured well and despite being one of the other technical tracks, there is no real difficulty in following and comprehending the track.

The final track “Night Hag” is perhaps the most technical of the lot. From beginning to end, there is a lot of variation, and despite the presence of vocals, this track feels like an instrumental. I liked the bass playing the most; I felt this was where the bass shined the most even though the guitars were the busiest. This track is a very good way to end an EP because it has the band finishing strong and leaving listeners with the impression that they will come back even stronger.

Overall, I give this EP an 8.7/10 and I really do hope to hear more of their material soon.

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