CULT GRAVES – Strange Customs
- by J.N.
- Posted on 23-04-2021
Hailing from San Jose in the US and dabbling in filthy, rumbling, and dissonant death metal, Cult Graves are the sound of an awful nightmare (think a Fulci movie in overdrive) and that is obviously a compliment and a good thing in this case. There is a wildly unnerving vibe shimmering underneath it all and what this blistering and wretched little opus offers is fucking old-school madness that reeks of Autopsy, Grotesque, Treblinka, Nihilist, Morbid Angel’s early demo material, and a general sense of decay. Unrefined, unpolished, and as ugly as cat piss in the snow, this is truly a bombardment on the senses.
"Strange Customs" is neither the catchiest nor most remarkable underground EP that you will come across, but it gets the job done in an effective and efficient manner, and I like its lo-fi aesthetics and murky, claustrophobic atmosphere. The songs are solid and the whole thing is musically cohesive. On top of that, there are some wonderfully slow, creepy passages throughout that are utterly crushing. Like I said, it is neither original nor innovative by any stretch of the imagination but evokes the oppressive feel of late 80s/early 90s death metal in a convincing and satisfactory manner and that it where its appeal lies.
The wicked thing about this cool-looking CD jewel case version is that the entire "Demo 18" has been included as a bonus, which means that you get nine unholy hymns in total. Given that the demo is similar to the "Strange Customs" in terms of sound, style, and presentation, it really does feel as if this is a proper full-length record. Nasty as hell and worth your time if rotten death metal is your thing.