“No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for man, yet men fear it as if they knew it was the greatest of evils” – Socrates, Apology
In Greek mythology, Melete Thanatou, the meditation on death, is a philosophical practice to systematically eliminate the fear of death by liberating the soul from the senses and desires of the body. With Void Cult Rising, NAGA take up the aforementioned fundamental concept creating their very own nihilistic opus to reflect upon death from different perspectives.
NAGA, named after a serpent god in Indian mythology, is a three-man Metal band hailing from Naples, Italy. After a self-titled demo in 2013 and the first full-length record Hēn, the band released an excellent EP called Inanimate in 2016. For me, this EP marked the first point of contact with NAGA‘s intense and oppressive sound, a nasty blend of atmospheric Doom, filthy Sludge and the bleakness of Black Metal. Void Cult Rising, which was recorded in the Sulfur City Studio by Alessandro Pascolo and mastered by James Plotkin, points into the same direction but even goes one step further in various aspects – such as intensitiy and ambiance.
The opener “Only a God Can’t Save Us” directly pushes the listener towards the edge of the abyss, lyrically as well as musically. It perfectly captures the apocalyptic prevailing mood that sets the foundation for the album as a whole, mainly driven by the sluggish Post-Metal riffing and the ferocious vocals of guitarist/singer Lorenzo De Stefano. These somber soundscapes are rounded off by the energetic and impelling drive of the rythm section consisting of Emanuele Schember (bass) and Dario Graziano (drums).
With “Melete” and later following “Thanatou”, which together form the context-related climax of the album, NAGA are even intensifying the oppressive temper of the compositions. On top, the band achieves to emphasize their individual character to the songs by adding moody ambient and chaotic Black Metal sections.
Also lyrically NAGA follows quite a nihilistic path dealing with the intended self-removal of the human race from this world, which in their eyes would be “a feat so luminous, it would bedim the sun” (taken from “Bedim the Sun“) or the hopelesness and transience of life itself (“Pyre”).
In case you should still have a last spark of hope, it will be extinguished by the massive title track “Void Cult Rising“. With it’s clean guitar section you might be lulled into a false sense of security right before you get drawn into the inevitable void. In this almost ten-minute-long final section of the song, the listener gets confronted with hypnotic, repetitive riffing, gruelling bass runs and a percussion that literally feels like a punch to the stomach with every hit. Excellent!
With Void Cult Rising NAGA delivers a truly dark and emotional record that can hardly be surpassed in regard to intensity and atmosphere. I really enjoyed to dive into the lyrical content that goes hand in hand with the musical expressiveness of the band’s compositions. Moreover, the sound perfectly gets refined by the organic production that gives each instrument enough space to unfurl its intended aesthetic. In my opinion, this marks NAGA‘s most sophisticated record so far and definitely is a big step forward on their musical development. If they can achieve to push the boundaries of their various influences even further, I’m pretty sure we can expect something huge from their future efforts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
8 / 10
As usual, we added the favorite track(s) to our Transcended Review Playlist.