Swampcult – The Festival


Lo-fi and behold, the demon!

Summoned forth by Transcending Obscurity Records on 2 October 2016 and gawped at in awe and wonder by Jason Guest

Opening understatement: Dutch band Swampcult have a thing about H.P. Lovecraft. Their debut album, 2014’s An Idol Carved of Flesh, drew on his mythos for inspiration and made for an interesting listen. Two years later and the duo of A (drums, vocals, flute) and D (guitar, bass, things with keyboards and narration) have returned from the murk with The Festival, based entirely on his highly acclaimed story of the same name (you lucky people can read it here).

Pieced together as eight chapters and an epilogue, Swampcult’s murky mix of death, black and doom metal wrapped in a suitably crusty production again (re)creates the dread and trepidation that only those audacious enough to engage with Lovecraft’s tales experience. The spell of the eastern sea emerges, chants echo through the salty winds, a demonic voice utters in ominous tones, a slow chugging death doom riff rises from the deep and then – anti-climax of anti-climaxes – the cardboard drums collapse in and the thing falls flat on its face. So it’s supposed to all doomy, gloomy, mysterious and murky but what I assume is supposed to be beastly is instead bronchial.

Lo-fi and behold, like its predecessor, this plods along at far too miserable a pace for far too long to be truly frightening or awe inspiring. Okay, so there are a number of good riffs here and there but most of the time, they are drawn out and played until the very life of them falls flat on its grumpy rump. And the histrionic vocal performance does very little to lift this album out of its torpor. If Lovecraft and metal appeal, Sweden’s Head of The Demon, France’s The Great Old Ones or Chile’s Unaussprechlichen Kulten fare much better.

Swampcult – The Festival5 out of 10

Track list:

  1. Chapter I – The Village
  2. Chapter II – The Old Man
  3. Chapter III – Al-Azif Necronomicon
  4. Chapter IV – Procession
  5. Chapter V – The Rite
  6. Chapter VI – The Flight
  7. Chapter VII – The Dawning
  8. Chapter VIII – The Madness
  9. IX Epilogue – Betwixt Dream And Insanity