Cult of Endtime- In Charnel Lights

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Finnish death metal scene hasn’t gained as much worldwide popularity as some of the other countries out there, but there have been plenty of absolutely killer bands from that country ranging from the early 90s to present. Cult of Endtime is one of the newer groups to enter the fray, and after two demo releases they’ve put out their debut full length In Charnel Lights. Emphasizing mid-tempo and slower passages that have a death/doom influence along with faster assaults, this album doesn’t stray too far outside of what one might expect from this particular brand of death metal but the band provides enough standout riffs to still be a worthy addition to any fan’s collection.

Stylistically Cult of Endtime reminds me quite a bit of Vallenfyre, as both are newer bands that are paying tribute to the lumbering and crunchier grooves and melancholic atmosphere that slower death metal and death/doom offered so many years ago. And like Vallenfyre, these guys do this particular variant of the genre extremely well. Opener “A Vast Cosmic Horror” is a perfect example of what the band does well, as the riffs lumber forth with an immense amount of weight while also offering that familiar crunchiness that is so appealing. This slower, methodical style of death metal has always been a particular variant that I’ve found myself drawn in by, and because of this In Charnel Lights made an immediate impact. But the instrumentalists haven’t merely captured the classic sound and then stopped there, as their songwriting ability gives this record quite a bit of staying power. There’s a perfect balance between the doomier melodies and aggressive sections that compel the listener to come back again and again, and there’s more substance to the riffs than simply rehashing the old-school classics.

Heikki Miettinen handles all of the vocals on In Charnel Lights, and he has the type of growl that expands outwards and fills out the gaps in the band’s sound. It’s the type of pitch that’s perfect for this type of album, as Miettinen’s lower growls reverberate over the instrumentals and hit a peak level of intensity and distortion on every single song. With Cult of Endtime’s slightly more modern sounding production the vocals are front and center in the mix, which gives listeners plenty of opportunity to focus on the nuances of the performance and take in each and every word. It may seem like a minor detail, but it works to the band’s advantage and because they have a very capable vocalist that can hit some very low notes with quite a bit of power it enhances the overall effort that much more.

A lot of the death metal out there that pulls influence from classic genre acts seems to go for speed and a sheer wall of sound, so Cult of Endtime’s emphasis on methodical, lumbering riffs that incorporate some doom influences comes as a welcome change. But there’s more to In Charnel Lights than simply recapturing these styles, as they have substance to back it up and some killer riffs that will keep listeners coming back. There remains room to further expand upon some of these ideas and continue to blaze their own path within this space, but for now this Finnish group is off to one hell of a start.

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