Album review: CTHULHU RISE – 42

Cthulhu Rise

Musea Records

This incredible heavy but inventive album may sometimes border on the cacophonous as it blasts away the cobwebs of complacency with monumental fractured riffs, but the underlying fast changing time signatures, unrelenting metal dirge (sludge metal anybody?) and adventurous free-form jazz lines are very familiar.

Kiev’s Cthulhu Rise presumably takes the first part of its name from HP Hovercraft’s mythical metal armoured dragon slayers. If so, it explains the incredible barrage of sound, fractured guitar lines and stabbing riffs interwoven with piano and moog lines.

The opening ‘Opus 24’- an arresting mixture of mathcore with proggy jazz elements – sets the standard for the rest of an relentless album. ‘42’ is music with a 4 and half decade time span. Sometimes a piece starts with a contemporary bite and then suddenly we’re back in the early 70’s world of jazz rock. There’s even a short fusion synth solo, but for the most part all ten opuses (24- 29, but not strictly chronologically numbered) are a mish-mash of stop-start, bone crunching machine gun riffs.

The feverish piano lines fight to find the space to rise above the metallic drone that sometimes dwarfs the arrangements. I say arrangements, but in fairness there are moments when the band appear to be in truly improv mode, as one line is abruptly abandoned while another takes over, as the rhythm section lay downs a stuttering rhythmic backdrop to what the band call alternative metal.

Whatever the label, metal fans will enjoy the intense riffs, the incredible percussive drive and the in the moment bluster that for the most part makes you forget its instrumental music.

If Dillinger Escape Plan formulated the blueprint for mathcore then this motley crew have added disguised proggy elements – the darker side of Robert Fripp – and are unafraid to see where their jazzy soloing takes them.

It’s challenging stuff and once the band has gripped you with their incredible barrage of sound, they lead you on a musical joy ride. The constant interwoven battles, the sudden spiralling solos, little tension building moments and their resolution all demand your attention. ‘42’ is thunderous space filling supercharged music

Different influences abound, from Zappa guitar motifs and his manic time signatures to the organ led ELP influence on ‘Opus 23’, before it suddenly drops down to a piano-led jazz groove over a tic-tic rhythm.

At times the band’s dynamic interplay is breathtaking as guitarist Ivan Serdyuk and pianist Stanislav Bobritskiy trade bristling licks over Andy Pristchenko aggressive cymbal barrage. On other occasions such as the ‘Opus 26’ and ‘27’ the band are in danger of suffocating under the weight of their own heavy creation. On ‘Opus 27’ the organ and guitar interplay is again impressive, but the relentless machine gun guitar lines become a bit wearing.

‘Opus 28’ could have been an outtake from Beefheart’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’ as it has the same sort of intensity, while the rapid bass intro of ‘Opus 29’ has more of a jazzy feel in spite of the growling fractured guitar riffs.

There’s a gorgeous descending piano line that shapes the piece before the band jam with Stanislaw repeating the same line almost as signal for another layer of repeated guitar riffs.  He swaps to moog synthesizer to wrack up some King Crimson style tension before an unexpected mini bass solo from Yury Demirskiy, on a track that fairly explodes with ideas and free-form improvisation.

Cthulhu Rise pull the joker from the pack with the jazzy bonus track ‘Opus 31’ which suggest that having undertaken several exhilarating musical excursions they are happy enough to sign off with a surprisingly mellow bass-led ending to a raucous, committed and very inventive record. **** (4/5)

Review by Pete Feenstra

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