Kultika - Capricorn Wolves review
|Release date:||January 2021|
01. Building Nothingness Inside Faith
02. Under The Hollow Sun
03. Capricorn Wolves
04. I Have Returned
05. A Fixed Reality For Prometheus' Identity
06. Sounds Of Everlasting Desire
It's helpful that post-metal is a pretty broad genre description, as you need a wide umbrella to cover everything that Kultika get up to on Capricorn Wolves.
Coming 8 years after the band's debut, Capricorn Wolves is only the second full-length record from Romanian group Kultika (based on their release schedule so far, we can expect an EP around 2025), so they're clearly not a band that rushes things. When they announced this record, just like in the past, Radu took the opportunity to plug a Romanian band playing a style I like to me. As I started "Building Nothingness Inside Faith", I was ready to give him a thumbs-up for a solid serving of post-metal and move on; however, I ended up being quite surprised at where it went next.
"Building Nothingness Inside Faith" is a high-quality but fairly conventional track for the genre: the long, slow clean build-up that gradually leads into a chunky, mid-tempo heavy section, the mid-range harsh vocals, the tremolo and other subtle guitar and keyboard melodies, it all comes together nicely and sets the stage nicely for the subsequent tracks. The cut-out and rebuilding in the second half of the track reminds me positively of the likes of Moanaa and leaves me excited for another 30-40 minutes of this style, but it's only really "Building Nothingness Inside Faith" that really fits snugly inside this style.
Signs that Capricorn Wolves is not just another standard genre release come as early as track two; there are definitely similar sections on "Under The Hollow Sun", particularly in the second half, but the frantically energetic opening to this song starts to betray Kultika's former life as a black metal band, the riff reminding me somewhat of Immortal even if the vocals are gentle. The double bass drum rolls, sinister tremolo and deeper vocal growls show an inclination for extreme metal that goes beyond what one would expect based off of the opening song, and this deviation from the norm only becomes greater as the record progresses. Psychedelic keyboards open the title track, before the band traverses first grim sludge riffing and then a Saor-esque atmos-black section. The song sprawls out from here, between brash sci-fi synths, meandering, convoluted riffing and hushed vocals; it's a lot to take in within the span of a single song, but before you've had the chance to reflect on what's just happened, "I Have Returned" opens with a riff that makes me think more of Mastodon than anyone else I've namedropped so far.
I would say the intro to this track serves as best evidence of how not every idea included in Capricorn Wolves is equally well-conceived; as utterly impressed as I am with the design and execution of "Under The Hollow Sun" and "Capricorn Wolves", this opening minute of "I Have Returned" does leave something to be desired, whether it's from the writing perspective or the production perspective, as the guitars do feel a bit 'bleh' here, for lack of a better word. The death metal-leaning verse that follows is more satisfying, but generally the first half of this song falls slightly short of the standard that the tracks prior to it had set. Other sections on Capricorn Wolves that don't quite match the quality of the rest include some of the murkier riffs in "A Fixed Reality For Prometheus' Identity". Still, these lulls are more than compensated for by both the quality and imagination exhibited across the remainder of the record, particularly the prog-heavy closing track "Sounds Of Everlasting Desire" (I get The Reticent vibes in the closing moments of this slow-burner).
By the time you've traversed the space rock, clean vocal/blast beat combos, gothic keyboards and everything else that accompanies listeners along this staggering journey, you'll have almost forgotten how normal everything seemed when you pressed play to begin Capricorn Wolves; certainly, every time it looped back to "Building Nothingness Inside Faith" when I bulk-listened to the record, it took me a few seconds to realize I was still listening to the same album. It might have taken Kultika a long time to release a new record, but they seem to have made the most of that time, as Capricorn Wolves is emblematic of a band that is both brimming with ideas and capable of condensing those ideas into a compact and satisfying listening experience.
||Written on 03.02.2021 by|
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