Australia’s Cauldron Black Ram bring high-seas violence, pirate savagery with ‘Stalagmire’

CBR cover
We are approaching the time of the year when people who live in my hometown of Pittsburgh usually can taste the bile in the back of their throats and start to prepare for month after month of anguish and complete futility. That’s because the Pirates are preparing to play baseball again, and hardly anything that’s transpired over the past 20 years has been remotely hopeful.

But that was until last year when the Pirates finally rose up, flexed their muscles, and stopped taking bullshit. They made the postseason, battered the Reds, and even pushed the almighty Cards to the limit. Hope springs eternal now, but they still need a few more twists before they really can be taken completely seriously. They need a real killer instinct, something to instill fear in their opponents and those teams’ fans who dare enter our town, and I can think of no better way to do that than have music from Cauldron Black Ram play at top volume 24 hours a day, seven days a week during baseball season at PNC Park. I don’t care if there isn’t a game going on or the team is away. That music will create great terror. No mercy!

The team also brings in these lame-ass bands every year to play after games on special nights in the summer, but the Aussie maulers would be ideal for giving that idea a much needed shot in the arm. For this band has been telling stories of pirate violence, pillaging, and plundering for years now, and their raw brand of death, black, and doom metal might just be what the team needs to find the hate inside their hearts and lay waste to every team that opposes them. It has to work, and it’s way better than having the same awful pop country and bro-dude music usually played at the stadium. I’d even let them hand out real swords to people. Whatever it takes, man.

All that fantasy baseball promotion aside, Cauldron Black Ram have been a destructive force ever since their formation in 1996. After delivering a demo the year after they formed, they put out a 7-inch EP and contributed to a split with Misery’s Omen before their debut full-length “Skulduggery” landed in 2004. They were quiet as far as studio content for another six years when they returned with “Slubberdegullion”, and now they’re back with their pulverizing third record “Stalagmire,” that’s being released in North America by the trusty 20 Buck Spin. The band’s lineup contains notable figures you might be aware of including Damon Good (Mournful Congregation, StarGazer) on guitars and vocals, Ben Newsome (also of Mournful Congregation and Intellect Devourer) on bass and vocals, and Denny Blake (also of Mournful Congregation and StarGazer, as well as Misery’s Omen and Martire) on drums and vocals. It’s a mighty unit that cannot be questioned simply based on their respective backgrounds, and once you hear the band’s music, you’ll be ready to see a band of pirates rage through your town as well.

“Fork Through Pitch” gets it started just right, with gruff vocals, a mauling tempo, and some straight-up galloping that seems to channel classic Iron Maiden. As the song progresses, it gets darker and more menacing, beating you down before it leads you onto “Maw,” that opens with an eerie sense of foreboding. The vocals are harsh, quite obviously, and there are weird creaks and cracks that pop up during this doomy mashers. But before it all ends, the pace hits high gear and thrashes away righteously, with some excellent guitar work carrying the back end of the song. “Discarded Death” is packed with throaty growls that are turned toward infernal, a drubbing, muddy pace, and a finish that grinds your face in the sand, leaving you with grit between your teeth. “A Litany of Sailors Sins” is a fun one, as it mixes sludgy doom with a Pirate folk melody, but as it goes on, its gets darker and uglier, with the guitars eventually igniting and lighting everything ablaze. This is a killer track.

“Bats” blows up from the get go, with a fast start aiming to maim, some more doom dumped in for good measure, and biting riffs that sound like they take inspiration from the song’s title. “Cavern Fever,” as sly a title as you’re going to find anywhere, is a dirty, dizzying instrumental that takes on a thick thrash groove and then leans hard into stoner-style riffing and hard crunch. “From Whence the Old Skull Came” plods through the tar, as an abundance of coins from pirates booty is jingled in the background through the track’s duration. It’s mean, heavy, and slow driving, providing a thorough beating from which you won’t soon recover. “The Devil’s Trotters” settles into a nasty groove swagger, with scary vocals that border on demonic, and the bass takes the lead on this song, driving everything to sink in the massive low end of this killer. Closer “Speliogenesis” has strange monologues, mournful guitar tones, and a lot of warbling madness, almost as if the narrator is stuck in a dark cave, meandering about and bordering on insanity. The song has its violent parts and can leave bruises, but for the most part, it’s a really weird, wholly mesmerizing track that might leave you emptying your stomach contents into the sea.

Perhaps my Cauldron Black Ram/Pirates promotional idea has no shot in hell of happening, but it’s a good one. It’s better than some bobblehead. After all, we need someone to remind people of the ruthless, murderous nature of pirates, and how they show no mercy when in the reach of something they want. Cauldron Black Ram hammer home that violent intent perfectly, and they’ll scare the hell out of anyone within arm’s reach. Argh!

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cauldronblackramofficial

To buy the album, or for more on the label, go here: http://www.20buckspinshop.com/

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