Cult of Lilith – Mara (Review)

Cult of Lilith - MaraCult of Lilith are a death metal band from Iceland and this is their debut album.

After a decent wait, we finally have the follow up to the early promise of 2016’s Arkanum. Between the two releases the band have picked up a new singer and filled out to an entire band, so that only one member remains from that first EP. Mara is largely the sound of a new entity.

Cult of Lilith play a fusion of old and new death metal that takes classic influences, merges them with some modern ones, and provides a 36-minute journey into layered ferocity.

Mara is a creative album, taking a range of influences into its brand of modern extreme metal. The music delivers songs that explore neoclassical, progressive, blackened, and technical waters with the confidence of veterans. A variety of different instruments and styles are used, resulting in an album that’s just as comfortable with beauty and nuance as it is brutality and aggression. This richness of breadth on the album is keenly felt, and impresses the listener quite early on with the textured palette from which it paints.

Blistering melodic death metal is combined with grandiose heavy metal and progressive structures. Neoclassical workouts add further depth and atmosphere, enhancing the surprisingly emotive core that the music seems to have, even when at its most violent. The vocals are equally as diverse, with the singer demonstrating a range of dynamic aggressive styles quite fluently. Everything from spoken word to clean singing appears.

There’s a lot going on here, especially when you consider the relatively brief duration of the album. All of this is wrapped up in a razor-sharp metallic delivery that doesn’t sacrifice its potency due to the inclusion of these wider elements. In fact, if anything, these stylistic additions merely make the band’s aggressive tendencies all the more powerful.

When comparing Arkanum to Mara it’s very clear that these are essentially quite different bands; In many ways the Cult of Lilith of 2020 is a different beast to the previous one, but the shared roots can be heard. Somehow Cult of Lilith have ramped up everything to the max for their debut album, and it’s a real tour de force of extreme metal.

Essential listening.

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