By John Sturm
Regular readers (Hi Mum!) will know that I like to pepper my reviews with random things like 80s pop and cake and all that. Not here though. A record of this magnificence deserves an utterly “straight” review. So there will DEFINITELY be no mention of My Little Pony –sorry Ryan.
According the words that came with this release, Cultura Tres are “an avant-garde mix of seventies rock, doom, psychedelic metal and South American folk”. Yes, but also I must add to that list the phrase ‘creepy-as-hell… but in a good way’. On this, their fourth release Rezando Al Miedo, the Venezuelan 4 piece have created an darkly evocative soundscape that by parts leaves you exhilarated, unnerved and queasy. Mind you a having front man (Alejandro Londoño) who was a founding member of the pioneering Epitafio might well give you and indication of the pedigree this band has. But this is no one-man show. Much like the album itself, this band as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts….
I could go into specifics with regards to riffs and all that. But this is an album that is so much more than sentences like ‘the throat scraping vocals of Alejandro Londoño in ‘1492’ are wonderfully complimented by some frantic tom playing of drummer David Abbink’ and ‘with guitars so heavy and laden you’d think they were made of cement’ are all well and good but this is a work of art (yes, I said it) that is about the ENTIRE package; everything compliments each other to create a cohesive journey upon which the listener must go. You are challenged to explore dark recesses both musically and mentally.
Ominous bass chords, echoing jarring guitars, muted whispering and cries all guide you towards a brink…. only to let YOU decide whether to step over the edge. This is no better displayed than in the epic album closer ‘Forget I’m Here’. 20 minutes of glorious meandering through peaks and troughs that fill you with both hope and dread. Finishing this song, I was left with the same feeling I had (and still have) of the scene in The Neverending Story where Atreyu’s house, Artax, can no longer make his way through the Swamps of Sadness, one of the slowly ebbing away of resistance and the acceptance of what might be, no matter how painful or hard it is.
Look, I don’t want you to think that this is a record of depression and sadness. Far from it. It IS a challenging listen; it’s not an album for the stereo whilst you’re whipping up a Croquembouche, it’s a headphones album. It owes much of its construction to albums like Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. It’s an album that you have to give yourself to. Those thoughts you keep locked away, the fears that you bury deep within the doubts that echo….. those are what this album needs to make it reveal its true beauty. Challenge yourself, immerse yourself, and give everything you have to this album. The results are a record that you will connect with like no other.