Cthonic Rites review by Moss

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  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Moss: Cthonic Rites

Sound — 9
This tormented, excruciating release comes courtesy of the UK doom three-piece. Moss, who by this point have already established themselves as a significant force with a stream of demos, EPs and splits, have unleashed this monolith unto the unsuspecting public. The sounds that feature on the record are truly suffocating and disturbing, giving a feeling of being buried alive. Originally limited to 1000 copies, it was produced and recorded by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, who helped Moss to craft a dense and nihilistic sound. The guitar tone is crucial, as it is the main point of reference to the atmosphere. It's low and brutal, with a distinct 'earth' quality to it, and heavy distortion is used. The note choice is significant; guitarist Dominic Finbow takes the minimalist approach further than a lot of his colleagues, choosing to concentrate on a few specific intervals to craft his sound scapes. The result is haunting, hypnotic and violent, evoking strong images of being trapped in some underground labyrinth. Feedback and noise are used to augment the unsettling attributes of the music. Chris Chantler's drumming on the record is simple, but works well within the context of the band's sound in supplementing the terrain laid down by the guitars. In fact it's a very solid performance, and one of the few things that reminds the listener that one is still in the real world, and not sucked down into the ghastly crypts of Moss's imagination. The music features elements of sludge and drone, mainly through Dominic's guitar lines and tone, all of which help to create the feel of ploughing through mud deep underground. The track titles -- Crypts Of Somnambulance and The Gate -- are perfect in describing what one goes through while listening to the record. The second track interestingly features a much lighter start, but eventually descends back into the nihility and despair of the preceding song.

Lyrics — 8
The vocals are an outstanding feature of the album. The blood-curdling screams and shrieks, performed by Olly Pearson, are some of the most disturbing vocals put on a record. They communicate feelings of hopelessness, despair, hate and foreboding without the need to look at the lyrics. The latter are influenced strongly by Olly's occult studies and H.P. Lovecraft.

Overall Impression — 9
This is the first full-length release by the band since it's formation in 2000, but shows very capable and mature song writing. It sticks more or less true to the funeral doom sound, but incorporates some influence from sludge, traditional doom and drone for some variety. Both tracks deliver consistently solid writing, never releasing the listener from their haunting grasp. The only issue is the occasional repetitiveness of the music. Not a big concern if you are already into drone and similar genres, but to the uninitiated it may be at times trying. In a few words, a subsonic masterpiece. Truly a vitriolic release with an evocative atmosphere and a haunting sound. Clocking in at around 43 minutes, the music maintains the suspense and atmosphere that are established from the beginning. Keeping to slightly traditional notes and intervals, it still sounds fresh and inspired. While their music may appeal more to a niche of listeners than general fans, it is an outstanding record, and a brilliant testament to the genre. One of the strongest points of the album is most certainly the vocals, but the entire band gives a solid, locked-in performance. Creepy and eerie, a must for anyone into this form of music.

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