PICK OF THE WEEK: Occultist will blacken your Friday with crust violence on ‘Death Sigils’

Photo by George Lawhorn

Photo by George Lawhorn

So, did you go out for Black Friday shopping? Were you one of those people who got punched in the mouth because you were trying to do something nice for your loved ones and some jerk holding a flat-screen TV over his asshole head knocked you over and caused you an injury you didn’t deserve? Do you kind of need something to help you get out that stress and fury?

Well, you’re in luck! Richmond, Va., crust maulers Occultist have you covered in a gigantic way with their debut full-length “Death Sigils” that’ll make your blackened heart feel so much better, as you imagine all of those materialistic zombies being consumed by a karma combine, their body parts being strew about in parking lots of major big-box retailers nationwide. I think people need to see the torn limbs of people who treat each other like jerks on a day when the idea is supposed to be to do wonderful things for the good people in your life. Oh, but anyway, Occultist will be your new favorite killing warriors once you take on “Death Sigils,” and it’s a shame it’s coming out so late in the year because late November records tend to get lost in the mix when best-of time comes around. Well, they won’t be forgotten here.

occultist coverOccultist have been active since 2009, and before this album arrived, they had a demo “Hell By Our Hands” to their name. Yet, for having so few pieces of recorded music on their resume, they sure pack a channeled wallop on “Death Sigils.” Their time plying their trade live, playing alongside bands such as Pentagram, Gwar, Black Anvil, Dragged Into Sunlight, and Nunslaughter (we in Pittsburgh still claim them as our own) certainly has been to their benefit, and their power and strength is not to be questioned. Nor will you question them once you hear this eight-cut, 36-minute dose of hardcore, crust, metal, doom, and death. It just kills.

The entire band brings it hard on “Death Sigils” and makes for a terrifying force, but the most powerful part of the band is singer Kerry Zylstra (or K.Z., as she goes by), whose barks, growls, and howls should scare you straight in no time. She has a command and a fist-to-your-jaw authority that lets you know she means business and is not to be messed with. Along with her creating this chaos are guitarists K.J. and J.R., bassist N.A., and drummer L.H., who make for one deadly team and are sure to be bruising faces for years to come. So be warned.

The record opens with “Iron Distort,” a sludgy, punishing track that bursts the crust right away and serves up your first dose of devastation. The vocals are mean and menacing, and the band thrashes you righteously. That leads to “Devil’s Breath,” that kicks off with a mean, attitude-spitting riff, throaty growls, and a mashing pace that keeps this song quaking and spitting molten lava in your general direction. If you’re feeling dizzy, that means it’s working. The title track is up next, and the drumming rattles you from the word go, with eerie darkness setting in like a plague, vocals from K.Z. that sound like she’s channeling the spirit of classic thrash metal, strong waves of chugging, and a simple chorus where the title is shouted back, which should cause for a crowd frenzy live. “Ritual Blast” rips open, with more charging, scary yelling, and even some black metal-style melodies that slip in and up the ante of evil. As crazy as the song’s front half is, it gets even nastier later when they get their proverbial blade swinging wildly.

“Path of the Damned” smokes early, with N.A.’s bass and L.H.’s drums forming a thick swirling vortex that bleeds into a burst of thrash goodness and even some sleazy riffs that reek of classic gutter rock and roll. There are some excellent lead lines in the song, and the classic heavy metal vibes cannot be denied. “A Hell for the Innocent” is muddy, mucky, and punchy, with violence igniting, and the band just trucking full speed ahead, damn whatever’s in their way. K.Z.’s vocals are spat out, giving her words even more weight and damage. “Blackest Apotheosis” has a scary, murky intro that slithers along and, while it’s as heavy as anything else on here, takes its time doing its damage. Of course, the song melts down totally, with the vocals sounding maniacal, the melodies coming on thick, and some weird atmosphere adding extra chills for good measure. Closer “Towers of Silence” is the longest track at 6:28, and it lets the doom fog roll on and poison everything. Some razor-sharp dual guitar lines set in, and then we’re on our way, with more devastating chugging, additional swatches of black metal, the last gasp of devastating vocals from K.Z., and a bed of noise that rises and chokes everything to the ground.

So yeah, if you’re way pissed off today and wish to see the dregs of humanity blacked out forever, Occultist will be the medicine that’ll bring you back to earth and have you feeling normal again. No way you’re more pissed off than this band, and no way your display of anger can be more volcanic than what you’ll meet on “Death Sigils.” This is another killer band from Richmond that has sharp teeth, an agenda of chaos, and the will to cross off every target on their list, and as long as they keep on the path they’re on, they should be causing metallic misery for years to come. Don’t sleep on this awesome band. Occultist are one of the most promising bands of 2013, and they’re coming for your throats.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occultist/115493598623

To buy the album, go here: http://primitivewaysrecords.com/store

For more on the label, go here: http://primitivewaysrecords.com/

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