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Cultura Tres - "El Mal Del Bien" (CD)

Cultura Tres - "El Mal Del Bien" CD cover image

"El Mal Del Bien" track listing:

1. Propiedad de Dios
2. Purified
3. Los Muertos de Mi Color
4. El Sur de la Fe
5. No es Mi Verdad
6. The Grace
7. El Mal del Bien
8. Voices
9. Tres Seis Diez Dos
10. Your Call

Reviewed by on October 22, 2012

"Cultura Tres goes beyond the parameters of simple sludge and has upped the ante by including a variety of interesting touches on this album."

If you have only had a chance to catch a couple of songs from Cultura Tres, do yourself a favor and listen to their recent second album, "El Mal del Bien," from cover to cover. It is only then that you may get the true picture of the entire style of this Venezuelan sludge band. Cultura Tres goes beyond the parameters of simple sludge and has upped the ante by including a variety of interesting touches on this album.

"El Mal del Bien" (the bad from the good) is exactly that. Vocalist/guitarist Alejandro Londoño and his bandmates take the bleakness of their sound and amplify it exponentially into new territory. You have the atonal and heavier sludge riffs that bear a resemblance to the sicker moments of Alice In Chains on "Purified," yet the psychedelic and insidious musical direction that drips with even more disenfranchisement.

While you'll find that many of Cultura Tres's songs lumber riff after lugubrious riff, it is the dense interludes that make many of the songs epic. "Propiedad de Dios" descends into half-speed leads and an outro that betrays a weary whisper into a mantra. And while a lot of instrumentals can get passe, "Los Muertos de Mi Color" is downright transfixing. The ancestral percussion builds in tumescence around a subtle soundbite about Christianity and the raping of Latin American culture.

While the vocalist maintains a bellicose style throughout the harder-edged tracks, I like it when he adopts his 'sneering' tone in a couple of the songs. That laid back, fed-up style of singing comes through loud and clear in "No es Mi Verdad," playing right into the jaded nature of the lyrics. Plenty of '70s influences abound in that song in the form of retro/doom soloing that builds into a capping jam session. Sometimes the '70s translates into Sabbath for them, too. That guitar on "Tres Seis Diez Dos" is a real sludge monster. Prog tendencies, slow hints of guitar and haunting melodies enhance "The Grace" and show how Cultura Tres keeps it riveting via variety in their songs. They even lead off the album in "The Call" with some good outro piano.

Cultura Tres is possibly best known for its videos, and is also known for its unabashed political critiques. "El Mal del Bien" has spawned many official videos, the newest one for the song "El Sur de la Fe" (south of faith). The video and the song are a competent sludge/doom critique of Christianity, showing the indoctrination of religion by shots of kids picking up bibles washed ashore, while a beggar gets virtually ignored by seemingly pious masses. This is a nice nasty, slammed out tune with chaotic shifts in the beat - just like the title track.

Through their endless touring and parameter-pushing music, Cultura Tres is a band to watch. They take the hard edge of sludge and manage to add far more interesting touches that make it into music that is haunting and transfixing, and anything but boring. "El Mal del Bien" has a bit of every element that makes it a memorable album, yet maintains the mystique of the band.

Highs: Haunting and mesmerizing sludge metal

Lows: Not too many; only a few moments of redundancy

Bottom line: A band that pushes the borders by incorporating a variety of sounds.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)