Cult of Lilith – Mara (Metal Blade)

Friday, 28th August 2020
Rating: 9.5/10

Four years ago, Cult of Lilith brought out their debut EP, Arkanum. It was an interesting bit of death metal that took some newer elements like tech and jazz elements and fused them with a bludgeoning attack that was rooted in tradition. Add in some genuinely enjoyable songwriting, and it was a great foundation. That said, it doesn’t even begin to compare to what the band has unleashed with their first full-length in Mara.

Musically, Mara is a massive leap forward from the already interesting landscapes that the band has designed. It’s honestly tough to just saddle it with a ‘death metal’ tag at this point too. There’s so much going on in the music, and putting a tech or progressive label on it doesn’t do it many favors either, as it leads to a certain perception. Instead, just go in expecting a thrilling piece of eloquent extreme metal. There’s some exhilarating speed that the band can put behind them, bordering occasionally on thrash intensity, but with the tech-death flavoring that has been in favor of many acts in recent years. The difference here is the nuances and variety.

There’s an almost theatrical aspect to the music, as it bounces from riff to riff, tempo to tempo. While almost all of it is decidedly brutal (and technically lavish) in tone, they know how to add in breaks and moments of reprieve. Whether it’s a slow groove (“Enter the Mancubus”), some exotic texturing (“Profeta Paloma”), or even some operatic (“Le Soupir du Fantome”) or actual theatric elements (“Comatose”), Cult of Lilith keeps you on the edge of your seat as you attempt to see where they will take their music next. Instead of being a scrambler of stuff though, as noted with their EP, there’s a strong sense of songwriting and cohesion – keeping the frantic pace and intricate riffs balanced while allowing for plenty of outside experimentation. The cherry on top is new vocalist Mario Infantes, who matches the band’s breakneck changes with an assortment of vocals from growls, roars, shouts, singing, and even some operatic moments to provide an even greater sense of texture.

Forward-thinking extreme metal that not only appeals to the adrenaline-fueled sense of the genre, but an intellectually charged one as well, Mara is a scorcher that will stick with the listener. Cult of Lilith should easily break out within this one, as many are bound to champion the combination of varied elements that keep the band’s sound brutal yet entirely refreshing.

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