Cult of Daath - The Grand Torturers of Hell - 2006 - Deathgasm Records
1. Tyrant 2. Temple of the Sadist 3. Summoning the Bloodred Moon 4. Ritualistic Impurity 5. Sadomatic Rites (Beherit cover) 6. The Feasting Pits 7. Uphold the Oath of Evil 8. Terror Command
Of the seven tracks on ‘The Grand Torturers of Hell’, the first six all begin with the plaintive cry of guitar feedback followed by a cymbal count-off. All of the first four are almost perfect replicas of each other, at least for the first five seconds. In fact, the correlation is so close that I had to double check on more than one occasion that I was listening to a different track, and that it was not simply another version of the song just played.
From these few hints, the genre of this Cult of Daath debut LP should be obvious. This, friends, is black metal. ‘The Grand Torturers of Hell’ was originally released in 2001, apparently limited to the traditional 666 copies, but under the active auspices of Deathgasm Records it has been repressed (not re-mastered, Satan forfend) with new cover art and a bonus track.
Cult of Daath play a conventionally American form of black metal, with the lo-fi production, tremolo riffs, prominent bass lines, and grungy atmosphere we have come to expect from this style. To their credit, Cult of Daath were playing this style when Leviathan, Xasthur, and the rest of that California scene were still on training wheels (or training paint, more appropriately). In fact, ‘The Grand Torturers of Hell’ could be the Cult’s most appealing work, deserving of its re-release if not necessarily the cult status it is claimed to enjoy. Though far from exciting or unusual, this album is significant for much the same reason early (i.e. true) punk is—it may not be good or pretty, but at least its consistent and honest.
All the songs are rather simply constructed and slam through their riffs at a lively pace, with drums set to either black metal blast or one-two. The production is appropriate for the setting: not quite muddy but neither crystal clear, with a hint of deep echo to the vocals. It is a formula that can appeal to every black metal, from the ambiguous new schoolers to the Ildjarn traditionalists (check out ‘Feasting Pits’ as a 21st century ‘Midnight Interval’)
In what was likely as much a fortuitous accident as an intentional effort, Cult of Daath have captured nearly all the traits that have turned so-called USBM into a major label phenomenon. And, for what it's worth to ye old timers, their cover of Beherit’s ‘Sadomatic Rites’ is worth revisiting, as is the grisly cover art, now fully colorized.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details