By Kyle Harcott
Decatur’s Blood Cult bill themselves as ‘America’s only Redneck Black Metal band’, but I can tell you for the most part, I got very little redneck out of Cult of the Plains. However, the band is a force to be reckoned with provided you can stomach a fistful of acid-soaked psych with your black metal. And I hope you can, because this record deserves a lot more attention. If you can keep an open mind about your black metal, you’re in for a treat.
Opener “My Forest Home” starts out straight-up svartmetal, and rips through your cranium with requisite lo-fi guitar, blast-beats, and double-tracked vocals that sound like they were recorded using two tin cans and a string; so far, so good, but then just when you think it’s over, along comes this over-the-top Greg-Ginn-in-Gone guitar solo to close out the track – just the first of many left-turns this disc takes in its fifty-one minutes. Follow-up “Devil’s Sabbath” starts out like some sort of Southern-psych-doom number, and it’s weird as shit at first, especially after the ungodly blast of the first track. On first listen, the song vaguely reminded me of the late-‘70s, Casablanca-signed biker band The Godz. Crusty vocal track aside, it’s a mid-tempo, three-chord straightforward rock jam. Then, the coda of the track is pure ‘WTF?’ with its sing-songy whoa-oh-oh-ohhhs and hell yes, another over-the–top solo.
The third track is the bizarre “Ludi Ceriales”, which is, by the time the solo kicks in, post-rock devolving into psych (hints of Goblin in there somewhere). It’s a fascinating track, and by the end of my first listen I got it (I think) but man, at first glance, I was really confused. To Blood Cult’s credit, I was totally hooked by the time “Cult of the Plains” kicked in, even if it was only to see where the hell the band could possibly take it next. And just when I think I’m starting to make sense of this aural mindfuck, and that there are no more ‘WTF?’ moments to be had, “Illinoisan Altar” comes along and totally throws me off-guard. Believe me when I say at first it sounds like Dick Dale playing over a barndance polka, but then the choking-on-offal vocals kicked in and I really wondered what planet I was on. Of course, around the 5:18 mark, once again it severely lopes off into psychedelia-land with another of those searing, soaring Jerry-Garcia-style solos. “We Came Back” starts out like a demented, distorted “Incense and Peppermints” until the chorus kicks in the door like some sort of pissed-off, hippie-hunting Kent State national guardsman who’s been listening to Venom all day, while “Necromance” is the Crazy World of Arthur Brown by way of Darkthrone.
Kudos to Blood Cult for their eclectic tastes which mashup into this incredible mix of black metal and psych-rock – in addition to throwing in kitchen-sink influences left and right, there’s some solid songwriting here; that’s what captured my ear enough to stay interested. As I said, I hope that more people will find the time to check out We Are the Cult of the Plains, because after repeated listening, it’s totally grown on me – a fascinating, schizophrenic, Syd Barrett take on black metal.