Miskatonic University graduates Squidhead are a three-piece who haul from Belgium and have nothing but high praise for the “Great Old One”. Spawned from the depths of Pierre “Pish” Minet, the project was initially a solo endeavour but it has now been blessed by what lurks on the depths and is now a fully functioning musical entity of Lovecraftian malevolence and low register riffing. With influences which are as varied as Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Morbid Angel, Steve Vai and Devin Townsend, you can see that a common and prominent theme is extended-range guitars, down tuning and a maelstrom of riffs.
“Abyssal Worship” begins the journey into darkness with some atmospheric and ominous samples before the signature low F# string chugs come in. Vocal roaring and precise polyrhythmic pummelling soon join and the colossal beast begins to stir as the frantic but tightly controlled undercurrent drives it forwards. The Lovecraftian influences fill the lyrics and track titles. The theme of “Cognitive Dissonance” which Lovecraft claimed humanity had can be loosely interpreted in the Mechanical delivery (a la Fear Factory) of the Meshuggah-like colossal djent approach (See “Mantra Of Insanity”) and the focus on dreams, another key Lovecraft point (“Lucid Nightmares”) along with numerous references to “The Old Ones” can be found if you dig deep enough.
Momentary mid-review conceptual expositions aside, this album hits hard. The 8-string guitar provides the lion’s share of the musical weight with the noticeable thundering low F# string providing the meaty sound. whilst you can say that this is simply djent or Meshuggah worship, you cannot dispute the effectiveness it has with monstrously heavy riffs. Yes, there is a noticeable gap beneath the guitar leads where a rhythm guitar or more prominent bass would fill, but the flowing feel and superb execution of the soloing, like on “Awakening” does plenty to distract from this issue. The huge focus on the rhythm (drums) and riffs does pay off – “Mad Painter” is an animal! The massive presence the guitar and drums in tandem with the overpowering vocal roars creates a frighteningly intense track which you could liken to Strapping Young Lad for how raw and nasty it is.
Despite the massively heavy nature of this album, it does come up short in some places. The lack of a dominant ‘rhythm’ sound during solos is one area already touched on, as is the’ Meshuggah-clone’ feel. “Lucid Nightmares” as a whole is a chaotic mess of a track and the very nature of the whole ‘pseudo- Industrial-djent’ style (see: Predictable) all stacks up against the delightfully heavy and intriguing themed release.
Overall,” Cult[ist]” isn’t a bad album. It will take several listens to really appreciate and to get a feel for. The intensity cannot be frowned at and as mentioned already: its HEAVY! Djent fans will appreciate this, maybe those who have an ear for modern, technical-metal too. Praise Cthulhu, enjoy Squidhead