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Cardinal Wyrm – Devotionals

Cardinal Wyrm
Devotionals
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 23 December 2020, 7:47 AM

CARDINAL WYRM is a doom metal band from the California Bay Area.  They formed in 2009 and have released one split and four full length albums with their latest being “Devotionals.” This is actually my first time experiencing this band’s music…and what an experience it has been!  These guys play a more traditional doom style, overall, but they throw in a lot of different elements in it for a very unique sound.  There is a lot of psychedelic aspects to these songs and, at times, listening to this album made it seem like I was going mad or in a weird delirium.  That, of course, is a compliment to the band and this album!  Doom is so often judged as a genre that only offers depression and darkness but it can also get very, very strange and its nice to hear such a dynamic doom album.

The band has three members but I’ll be damned if they don’t sound like double that number—they just create this huge sound for three people.  The production has a stoner metal/doom type feel to it and it works well with CARDINAL WYRM’s writing style across the eight track, fifty minute long album. There is also much variety in the vocals.  The lead singer, Pranjal, has a clean voice like the doom bands of the late 70’s/early 80’s.  He does a commendable job leading the songs as his voice reaches pretty high, as if he is, ironically, preaching from atop a platform.  There are some death growls sprinkled throughout and, from my understanding, they are performed by bassist Leila who also uses her talents in VASTUM.  She does a great job as well, her vocals and bass both add in an abrasive layer to the music that most bands of a more traditional style just don’t have.  I also want to mention that Pranjal also drums—drumming and singing at the same time isn’t an easy feat no matter what style you play but he is impressive.  The drumming he provides is constant and very busy—this guy must have two brains to play and sing these songs.

Nathan, as the only guitarist, has a big job to fill up the rest of the songs and provide what makes doom the best music: unstoppable riffs. Indeed, this guy is a beat on the guitar with no shortage of riffs, clever moments, and unique guitar solos. The first track is “Gannet” and it is a doozy of a track.  Huge, earthy riffs, and bass that provides plenty of sludge, rips up the earth for a heavy intro that brings in the epic vocals.  About two minutes in, the song switches things up twice in a row.  First, the riffs just get fucking evil and nasty.  Then a trippy, psychedelic passage changes the song again before a blazing guitar solo drops. Afterwards, blackened death growls permeate the doom that has grown so heavy at this point its just dripping with sludge.   This all happened in the same song?  Yes, yes it did.

Imposter,” is almost playful and whimsical in the beginning with the way the vocals have an actorly feel and play off the clean guitar notes.  And how about that bass?  It’s taking a walk in the park, forming the skeleton of the doom that soon follows.  Somehow, this album just gets more and more heavy as it goes.  The later half of the song is decidedly more atmospheric with the way the vocals stretch out for space and sort of hang there briefly while the guitar lays a solid foundation.

Some of the album’s best riffs are in “Selimesh,” and their groove is infectious.  Lithe vocals are the highlight of the song’s mid portion and how they mix with the spoken word clean voice that actually gives the song a bit of a punk rock feel.  The last few minutes of the song sees the band slowing the temp way down for a good old fashioned doom metal stomp.

Abbess,” is also much slower but the guitar solo in the beginning keeps it from being plodding.  The guitar twists and turns alongside the exaggerated clean vocals for one of those moments I spoke of earlier where listening to this album made me feel like I was losing it.  Awesome.  Another hazy, smog filled solo cuts through the air later—well placed, indeed.  By the time the song is halfway over, the band is just killing it on all fronts.  And the song’s ending is my favorite part: sweet, sweet doom riffs and insane extreme vocals.  A perfect song?  Pretty close anyway.

The last track is “Do We Have Another Battle Left In Us?” and it immediately sounds different than any of the previous seven tracks.  The guitars, vocals, drums…..it all sounds so laid back but of course that changes around the 3:20 mark when the band throws all out on stage.  The next few minutes are a lot to take in with the vocals just shouting and spitting out nonstop and the cymbals increasing the madness on the earth moving riffs.

I was very impressed with this album and will no doubt be checking out CARDINAL WYRM’s previous efforts—and definitely looking forward to whatever they do in the future.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gannet
2. Mrityunjaya
3. Imposter
4. Selimesh
5. Canticle
6. Abbess
7. Nightmarchers
8. Do We Have Another Battle Left in Us?
Lineup:
Nathan Verrill – Guitars, Vocals
Pranjal Tiwari – Drums, Vocals (Lead)
Leila Abdul-Rauf – Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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