With a name that translates as “Black Cult”, Costa Rica’s Culto Negro formed in Heredia in 2015, and soon came to prominence the following year with their debut EP, Abismal Speed Metal. It’s been a long wait for their debut full-length, but it’s finally arrived in the shape of La Noche Oscura Del Alma, an 11-track opus that marks this quintet as master practitioners of the dark arts.
Culto Negro aren’t a band who deal in subtleties, and they don’t waste time either, and opening blast ‘Espectro Lunar’ finds them guilty on both counts. With a thunderous drum roll, it’s an instrumental that gets straight down to business and races ahead at a furious rate of beats per minute. As scene-setters go, it reminds me of Megadeth’s ‘Into The Lungs Of Hell’, chock full of maze-like riffs and heart-attack inducing drumming it introduces many musical themes that will echo throughout the album. The space between tracks is kept to a bare minimum, meaning there’s no time to regain your composure after the crushing introduction, and Culto Negro immediately land another hefty blow with ‘Desdoble’.
The band’s sound has a definite old school blackened thrash vibe; things get pretty fast, but rarely veer into blast beat territory. The band’s sound can often teeter on the edge of chaotic, yet it’s always controlled and is played with regimental timing that can often verge on the fascistic. There’s also a hardcore punk influence here (with the emphasis on hard) and bands such as Discharge and The Varukers have definitely impacted on Culto Negro’s sound. Tracks such as ‘Rojo Siniestro’ bristle with an amphetamine buzz; every nerve ending is on high alert and sending electromagnetic pulses to an already overworked cranium.
Just like the music, vocalist D.N. spits his lyrics forth in double-quick time, and the production places his voice in the centre of the mix so they sound as if they are emanating from the very depths of hades. The twin guitar tag team of Isak Arroyo and Esteban Sancho create an impenetrable wall of sonics, and their riff heavy assault, with short, sharp solos, only adds to the overall feeling of brutality. While La Noche Oscura Del Alma tends to travel along at a uniformly frantic pace, it’s far from generic and that’s primarily due to Vörago’s drumming which mixes up rhythms and inserts plenty of nifty fills. A cover version of Hermética’s ‘Desterrando A Los Marcha’ brings the album to a suitably stunning conclusion and ensures the silence that follows is positively deafening.
What lifts La Noche Oscura Del Alma above its peers is the atmospherics which hang over the record. This album has an aesthetic all its very own, it’s dark and disconcerting and weighs upon the listener like a tombstone, and it ensures Culto Negro won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
- La Noche Oscura Del Alma is released via Godz Ov War and is available now from here.
- Espectro Lunar (Intro Instrumental)
- El Quinto Ángulo
- Verso Adivinado
- Navajas, Cadenas Y Espejos
- Rojo Siniestro
- Caos O Cosmos
- Salvajes Destructores
- Violencia Psicoactiva
- La Larga Marcha
- Desterrando A Los Oscurantistas