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Cauldron Black Ram - "Stalagmire" (CD)

Cauldron Black Ram - "Stalagmire" CD cover image

"Stalagmire" track listing:

1. Fork Through Pitch
2. Maw
3. Discarded Death
4. A Litany Of Sailors Sins
5. Bats
6. Cavern Fever
7. From Whence The Old Skull Came
8. The Devil's Trotters
9. Speliogenesis

Reviewed by on May 16, 2014

"...comprised of members from Mournful Congregation, StarGazer, and Misery's Omen...each musician brings pieces of his band's sound to the album."

Cauldron Black Ram's motto could be "Australian and anti-Christ" if a band had not already taken that description. In name alone, these Aussies conjure images of hooded figures giving praise to a black goat around a boiling cauldron set for spells. "Stalagmire" marks an unholy trinity of releases by the group comprised of members from Mournful Congregation, StarGazer, and Misery's Omen. Whether it's black ambiance, low-end death metal, or mournful doom, each musician brings pieces of his band's sound to the album.

"Fork Through Pitch" is a cleverly worded song title that tells each listener what to expect. The group moves slowly at the start, creating a circuitous movement between each line. Each movement seems to be a collection of energy that is slightly released during a finger tapped part, but is ultimately builds toward the NWOBHM that comes in around the :45 second mark. "The Devil's Trotters" is a title that dictates movement. Here the band incorporates a slick, trotting bass-and-drum beat that harks back to early millennial tunes from Danzig and Marilyn Manson, but with a chorus of growls and shrieks too harsh to find its way on the albums of either artist.

The instrumental "Cavern Fever" showcases the band's down-tuned guitar sound. This track begins with alternating drum beats from Esh and guitarist Alim stays with the medium pace even during blast beats, but performs a solo around the 1:50 mark, which opens the speed just a bit. "A Litany of Sailor's Sins" opens with an intense segment of pounding drums and a gritty guitar lick. This opening rhythm churns and bends as more evil choirs enter the foray.

"Discarded Death" is another downward churner that unravels in a descending scale. The grunted vocals here remind of early black incarnations such as Beherit, but the band offers more dynamics than Beherit, which arrive during a fast part and an ambient wind-down. Check out "From Whence The Old Skull Came" and "Speliogenesis" for more ritualistic experimentation. Listen to the latter track for about a minute to find the type of depressive doom Mournful Congregation is known for.

"Stalagmire" is thick in production and ambiance. The recording primarily moves at a doomed pace, so fans of death-doom such as Autopsy and Incantation should dig this recording. There are no riffs repeated to boring results, though, and the band keeps each composition dynamic in pace through a three-way chorus of growls, barks, moans and echoing shrieks--all the while maintaining a blackened atmosphere. While speed bursts are apparent, it's better to look elsewhere for a blast fest. Still, the crossing of styles should find favor with a wide variety of extreme metal heads.

Highs: From minimal cymbal work to a choir of harsh voices, Cauldron Black Ram exudes evil.

Lows: The recording could use a few more speed bursts.

Bottom line: Cauldron Black Ram's stylistic crossings should appeal to a wide variety of extreme metal heads.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)