If there’s room in your life for another ethereal exponent of monolithic doom music, then Drug Cult will be happy to provide you with the necessary top-up injection. This Ritual Productions self-titled debut release introduces the Australian quartet to an audience beyond the southern hemisphere, and anyone happy to digest their doom in chunk-size bites will certainly have their appetite at least partially sated by the dark spirits that slowly unravel across these nine tracks.
The funereal march begins with ‘Serpent Therapy,’ which opens up with a smouldering bass which in turn is followed by a groove sharp enough to penetrate a block of ice. The band’s singer, Aasha Tozer, has a style that flitters between Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrell and Alunah’s now former vocalist Soph Day. If anyone doubts Drug Cult’s allegiance to mind-altering substances, then the close-up image of a monochrome mushroom on the album sleeve halts that argument in its tracks. Indeed, the hallucinogenic strokes are applied so freely by the antipodean servants of Satan that an extra coat is frequently applied for good measure. The slow slow, quick quick slow approach – although there really isn’t much of the quick quick – is similar at times to the UK’s Dorset doomhounds The Wounded Kings (RIP) and in places even Electric Wizard. The occult lined lyrics also align Drug Cult with Blood Ceremony, although the former’s sound is far weightier than the Canadian crew.
Maggie Schreiber’s bass lines are so grindingly heavy they almost require scaffold to keep them upright, and when she goes to work on a song like ‘Reptile Hypnosis’ or ‘Mind Crypt,’ the heady fuzzed-up vibrations are dangerously intoxicating, drawing you in like a particularly amorous incense stick. ‘Slaylude,’ another standout track, has the kind of hook that even the biggest beast in the swamp would think twice about eyeballing. Drug Cult drummer Dale Walker must possess the patience of Job as his Neolithic approach to his work almost permits time for a quick drag before each plodding application of stick to skin. Aasha’s vocals are blessed with wonderful reach and depth, perfectly suited to the kind of aching arc in which she frequently spirals into, such as on ‘The Wall’. When Drug Cult choose to open up, they do so with verve, as on the writhing ‘Acid Eye,’ which is one of the pacier numbers on the album and grants guitarist Vin Steele licence to be a bit more expansive, as though briefly freed of the doom shackles.
Fittingly for a band whose sound at times takes on biblical proportions, Drug Cult were formed by Mt. Jerusalem in the hills of Mullumbimby. The four members have all performed with other acts Down Under, which makes it surprising that it’s taken a UK label to show sufficient confidence in their infectious psychedelic melodies to release their debut album. To ensure the cosmic forces aligned perfectly, the album was recorded live at Rocking Horse Studios, Byron Bay during Solstice December 2016, with George Carpenter at the recording and production helm and mastered by Brian Lucey of Magic Garden Mastering.
- Drug Cult is released by Ritual Productions on June 21.
You can read CVLT Nation’s recent interview with the band here.