Friday, 5 April 2013

Cultura Tres - Rezando Al Miedo (album review)

Cover artwork by Damian Michaels
Without knowing for sure, I'd hazard a guess that at some point you have been hit in the head, maybe by a fist, maybe by a flying soccer ball.  Maybe it happened when you least expected it.  Either way, no band more accurately conveys that feeling through sound than Venezuela's Cultura Tres.  The hollow and wet thump, the bright flash, the droney and heavy ringing in the ears, the disorientation.  Sometimes nausea follows.  The lasting effect can be fear.  Cultura Tres' latest full-length album, the band's third, is titled 'Rezando Al Miedo' ('Praying To Fear').

How would I compare 'Rezando Al Miedo' to Cultura Tres' last album 'El Mal Del Bien'?  I wouldn't, this new one blows it out of the water.  But, I've a strong notion that fans of the band wouldn't necessarily agree, unless they're diehards.  The problem that I had with 'El Mal Del Bien', as indeed I have with a large portion of this particular brand of sludge, is that there's nothing in there to really sink my teeth into.  Nothing to draw me back, save a memory of a numbing buzz felt in places of impotent rage.  I need riffs, dammit!  Distinguishable ones, ones that if I recall them, I will spontaneously bust out with air guitar and mouth sounds because I can't help it.  I need melodies for the same reason.  Call me a neanderthal, or a philistine, or a douche, or what-have-you.  I don't mind, I just need those things to enjoy the music is all.  'Rezando Al Miedo' delivers these goods and does it quite well, thank you very much.  My aching suspicion however is that this isn't what Cultura Tres fans really want from the band, just increasingly downtuned distortion and droning riffs.  Well, there's that here too, and yet it's no longer simply about heaviness for heaviness' sake.

This is a truly impressive album by a band proving to the world that they are capable of composing and executing songs with multiple layers and textures.  The riffs are catchier, and if that term offendith thee oh Cultura Tres fan, then I've got to say I'm not sorry.  From the throbbing buzz of opening track "La Selva Se Muere" and its follow-up "Es Mi Sangre" to the solo which closes "Hole In Your Head" to the dynamic build up of "En Esta Tierra" the album opens up in a style previously unheard from the band before.  It's not long before you realize that this album is a tour de force, a masterpiece even.  This is their pinnacle.  In fact, I don't think it's going too far to say that this is as fine and memorable a collection of songs the band could possibly pen without veering away from metal and into pop territory.

Alejandro the vocalist is in fine form here, taking a cleaner approach to his position.  Interestingly the lyrics are mostly in English, excepting the choruses, which are mostly in Spanish, where the songs take their titles from.  The filthiest vocal of all, from the song "1492" is also sung in Spanish, which may be a clue to the man's comfort level with the English language, but he does a terrific job throughout.  He needn't worry of course because he's an intelligent and articulate guy with a lot to say (see video below).  By the time the mostly instrumental title track appears, a pattern begins to emerge in the listener's mind with bendy riffs and melodic counterpoint speaking loudest amid the din.  This all comes together on "La Ley Del Dolor" to tremendous effect.  The bendy riff opens up into a rarely heard harmony which puts a shitstorm of momentum behind the vocal.  This is the best song I've ever heard from the band, but it's only the natural evolution of everything they have laid down on this album to that point, everything had been leading to this one amazing moment.

The final track "Forget I'm Here" finishes off with about 14 minutes of post-Ridley Scott atmospheric drone, the kind where one can in fact forget the band is there and become lost in thought.

If the south of America is synonymous with the best sludge metal, then to go further south would produce something even better, right?  To quote the cool kids: "Seems legit".  Something about the heat and humidity mixes together for a well-cooked sludge.  This time out Cultura Tres pulls out all the stops and adds hooks to the recipe.  By the time you read this Cultura Tres will be finishing up the last leg of their European headlining tour, they've already conquered South America.  With material this strong, there's really no telling how far the band can go.  This is a brilliant album.

Highlights include: "La Ley Del Dolor" and "Hole In Your Head"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). La Selva Se Muere (5:00)
2). Es Mi Sangre (4:16)
3). Hole In Your Head (5:38)
4). En Esta Tierra (4:53)
5). 1492 (4:44)
6). Rezando Al Miedo (5:05)
7). La Ley Del Dolor (5:20)
8). Forget I'm Here (20:45)
Total Run Time: 55:39

Alejandro Londono - vocals, guitar
Juan Manuel de Ferrari - guitar, backing vocals
Alonso Milano - bass
David Abbink - drums

From: Maracay, Venezuela

Genre: Sludge, Psychedelic, Post-Metal

Reminds me of: Alice in Chains, Neurosis

Release Date: May 15, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Hop into a boiling cauldron caked in mud and sewage until the resulting brew becomes thick enough to stop bullets.

Better Reviews:
Phantasmagoria in Greek
Temple of Perdition

Cultura Tres official website
Cultura Tres on facebook
Cultura Tres on twitter


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