Album: Horror Cult
Release Date: 31/10/14
Label: Dust Devil Sounds
‘Horror Cult’ is the third release by Bristol-based goth heroes Ashestoangels, a band who’re notorious for providing one of the most visceral and energetic live shows of their scene. The question is, can they capture this live energy on record?It certainly gets off to a suitably feisty start with ‘Six Six Six’ a fast paced slice of gothic punk with a fist-pumping scream along chorus that seems destined to become a fan favourite. The quality level stays high with next track ‘The Wake’. It kicks off with an exhilaratingly fast guitar riff, slowing down to lead into an anthemic chorus, with enrapturing lyrics that weave a tale of grief and loss around the listener.
And therein lies the beauty of this album, and what makes it such an exciting piece of work. Musically, this is a raw album. There are no epic soundscapes here, no symphonic touches or pretensions to hide the meaning of the songs. This is music which captures the sweat, grime and joy of those tiny club gigs where every member of the audience is gripped by grubby musical euphoria, and there’s a real danger of having a band member land on your head. This is not sanitised music for stadiums, it’s bloody punk, red in tooth and claw. For many bands achieving this level of authenticity means discarding lyrical depth for something vaguely angry that sounds good when lots of people yell it, but not so for Ashestoangels. The lyrics here are wonderfully poetic, taking themes of grief, sadness, regret and intertwining them with a sense of hope to create songs that are deeply meaningful, but never needlessly depressing or trite.
Of course writing beautiful lyrics doesn’t mean a thing if the person singing them sounds like two angle-grinders mating, but that’s not a problem here. Frontman Crilly has a distinctive, powerful voice which can shift from honey-coated melodic serenade to throat-searing screams without a second’s pause. Slightly slower number ‘Still Dead’ shows off both his vocals and the band’s more melodic side and is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It’s not the strongest track however, that honour has to go to ‘Living Hell’ which features a stunning guest turn from producer William Control. The vocal interplay between him and Crilly is flawlessly executed and adds an almost eerie feel to the song, like we’re getting an opportunity to listen in to the voices in someone else’s head.
Overall, this is another strong effort from the Bristol boys, showcasing a sound which just gets better with every album they release. ‘Horror Cult’ is a lean album with no room for any musical flab, clocking in at ten tracks, only one of which is longer than four minutes (it’s 4.01 minutes long if you must know). It’s the work of a band who’ve just hit their musical stride and a worthwhile purchase for any music lover who craves the blood, sweat and tears of a good-old fashioned punk show.
Get your hands on Horror Cult on iTunes for £7.90 HERE.