Ctulu – Cultus in Tenebris (Review)

CtuluCtulu are a German black metal band and this is their latest EP.

Between 2011’s Sarkomand and last year’s self-titled album, Ctulu showed great progression. On this latest EP the band have continued to develop and refine their sound, unleashing 19 minutes of sophisticated, well-written black metal Continue reading

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Ctulu – Ctulu (Review)

CtuluThis is the fourth album from German black metallers Ctulu.

I’m familiar with Ctulu from their second album Sarkomand, which was a savage album full of fast-paced blackened hatred.

Their latest release is similar in style, but more sophisticated and diverse in its scorn. This is still dark, aggressive music, of course, but there’s more nuance to the delivery in places alongside the more frenzied assaults. Continue reading

Hladomrak – Hladomrak (Review)

HladomrakHladomrak are a Swedish Black Metal band and this is their début album.

This is underground Black Metal that’s raw but not overly so. Hladomrak play with passion and a steely professionalism that sees them produce charismatic songs.

It’s as cold as ice and the band rely on decent riffs and dark melodies rather than go the atmospheric or brutally harsh route. This approach serves them well as the songs are a really enjoyable collection of well-written tracks.

Don’t think this is Melodic Black Metal though. When I reviewed Ctulu’s Sarkomand I said that “this is not Melodic Black Metal, but rather Black Metal that has a lot of melody in it”. I feel that this is extremely relevant to Hladomrak too and describes them well.

There’s a Thrash influence to some of the guitars. I wouldn’t describe them a Black-Thrash band though; rather, they’re a Black Metal band that’s very riff-oriented. This is combined with a more orthodox Black Metal approach and results in some very fine musical darkness.

The vocals are high-pitched and see the singer scraping his metaphorical nails down the metaphorical blackboard with his voice. It goes well with the sharp delivery of the music and the spike-like riffing.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable Black Metal album, all the more so for being a bit different to what I was expecting. The writing is top-notch and the performance levels just as high.

A recommended listen for all followers of the Blackened arts.

Interview with Ctulu

Ctulu Logo

Ctulu are re-releasing their 2011 album Sarkomand, and what an album it is. Arne Uekert and Mathias Junge answered some questions and filled in the blanks…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Arne: I am Arne Uekert, guitarist and vocalist in Ctulu.

Give us a bit of history to Ctulu

Arne: Ctulu was founded in 2004 in Northern Germany with the aim to create fast and dark, yet melodic extreme metal.

What are your influences?

Arne: I’d let the listener decide on this point.

Mathias: Most people would say, it’s black/death metal in old Swedish style of the 90s like Dissection or Naglfar, but during the time of making music we created our own style called ”Seastorming Extreme Metal”.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Arne: I am listening a lot to Totenmond – Tonbergurtod at the moment. You may miss the point of the lyrics when you’re not speaking German, but the music is one of the heaviest and most evil I’ve ever heard.

Mathias: At the moment, there’s is nothing I would like to recommend.

Sarkomand is a few years old now but is being reissued for your 10 year anniversary – tell us about this.

Arne: The CD version is practically sold out and we always wanted to go vinyl. It was just a logical consequence.

Mathias: ”Sarkomand” is predestinated for this cause. A 45 minute manifest of pure violence and horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft! Who knows his stories will like this release. The album was loved by the fans right after release and is sold out for a while! Now it’s back on 12” vinyl and a must have for every Extreme Metal lover.

Since the album was originally released, how do you feel about it now – is there anything you would change or do differently?

Arne: Most unexpectedly I’d say that I wouldn’t. Actually this desire is normal, but I think this album works perfectly this way. The length is good, there are no fillers and I think each track stands out on its own. For me, this is still our best album.

Mathias: No, there is nothing I would change, for me it has everything what a good Extreme Metal album needs.

Ctulu BandWhat’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Arne: Mondsucht, definitely. I think it’s a good track to end an album with and I like the atmosphere it creates a lot.

Mathias: Good question…it’s hard to say…if I have to choose I would say Blindes Chaos, because in this song all the components of Ctulu‘s Extreme Metal are combined.

How do you feel you fit into the wider Black Metal scene, and do you feel differently about this now than when Sarkomand originally came out?

Arne: For us, Sarkomand was the ultimate evidence that we’re actually NO black metal outfit. Some reviews even counted this album as death metal. Freie Geister (our début album) earned a lot of harsh criticism because it is so very “unblack”. We wanted to make a statement with Sarkomand. This is extreme metal, this goes beyond death/black/dark metal or whatever.

Mathias: Well, we actually never associated ourselves with the Black Metal scene, because from the beginning till now, we never got religious (Satanic) influences in our lyrics or use any symbols of that on stage or in our artworks. We got nothing to do with any religions, that‘s why we call our music ”Extreme Metal” and when Sarkomand came out in 2011, it wasn’t different.

What can you tell us about the lyrics? Would you change them now?

Arne: Sarkomand is kind of a concept album about the Dreamland cycle by H.P. Lovecraft. Reading the “Dreamquest of unknown Kadath” will help you a lot diving deeper beyond the surface of the lyrics on this album.

Mathias: The lyrics are about nightmares and other Lovecratian themes. If we would change something, we wouldn’t be Ctulu anymore.

Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.

Arne: The songwriting was done by our lead guitarist Mathias Junge and our former drummer Jan Westermann (now active in the Greek outfits Released Anger and Diablery). I just added some second guitar tracks here and there. The lyrics were written by Mathias and me. About the songwriting itself, there’s actually nothing all too special to say. The tracks evolved very naturally and were finished very fast.

Mathias: The songwriting process is split between Arne and me. If we have new material, we work it out together with both guitars and then all the other instruments will follow.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

Arne: We’ve started to work with tracks written by both Mathias and myself now. We work longer on the single tracks now and we’ve found a better way to record demos, so the songwriting has changed a lot since Sarkomand. I think this will help the music get to the point faster now than it did three years ago.

Mathias: I don’t want to make any predictions, we will see what happen in future!

What’s next for Ctulu?

Arne: We’re working intensely on our forthcoming album that we hope to record at the end of this year.

Mathias: We working on a new album and the first live shows for 2015 are confirmed!

Thanks for your time! (From both)

Ctulu – Sarkomand (Review)

CtuluCtulu are a Black Metal band from Germany and this is their third album.

Ctulu play their Black Metal at speed and with much venom. Their sound is akin to the mid-90’s Swedish Black Metal style which is one that’s always been close to my heart. Think bands like Naglfar, Dissection, Dark Funeral, Marduk, etc.

Sarkomand is not just a derivative though, it has its own personality swimming though the Blackened riffs. A highlight of this release for me is said riffs; Ctulu are strong writers when it comes to the dark melodies of the guitars.

Note; this is not Melodic Black Metal, but rather Black Metal that has a lot of melody in it. It’s a subtle distinction to the uninformed but an important one. There’s nothing jolly or happy here; this is grim, dark Black Metal with melodies that will cut you to ribbons if you’re not careful.

The vocals are raspy croaks befitting the style, although they also throw a few Mayhem-esque semi-clean/chants into the mix on occasion as well as some actual mournful singing – it all definitely adds to the listening experience.

Cold Black Metal is always a good listen and Ctulu play it well. Their chilled delivery is served at the right temperature and this collection of tracks tastes just right to me.

If you enjoy the second-wave sound then Ctulu are a band you should check out. They may be playing the style but they stand tall in their own right and Sarkomand exists on its own merits, of which there are many.

Recommended for fans for frostbitten grimness everywhere. Quality stuff.