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NOTE: Posting has been sporadic. I’m well aware – I do my level best to get around to stuff, but school and work make it touch-and-go sometimes. Thanks to all those who still send me stuff. It will get reviewed, I promise.

ANYWAY! We got sent this from a publicity guy. This time, the ‘sounds like’ area is marginally closer to the truth. Vulture Kult practice a pretty big sounding brand of RAWK. They bill themselves as a two-piece band, but they’ve got a surprisingly expansive sound. There’s a variety of takes on the same style with this record – though some go for a swinging SABBATH groove, and some for a straighter, faster pace, they always hew pretty closely to a 70’s hard rock sound. No complaints over that, for sure. These guys are good musicians, and it comes through without coming across as wanky or show-offy. Guitar work is good, but you won’t find too much in the way of fretboard-burning solos – the guy definitely prefers the lower end of the neck, but he works it, for sure. Blues-rock riffs for days on this thing. There’s hints of BLUE CHEER, I’d say…but a punk influence as well, mostly manifesting in a faster pace, and shorter songtimes.

It’s a tried-and-true formula, and it delivers for Vulture Kult – mostly. Some songs like “Avenue H” come up empty, if only because doing a trick we’ve heard before is only gonna float if the riffs and power are there, and this one just hasn’t got them. Come to think of it, the most accurate thing I can say about this album is that to any listener who’s already heard the musical touchstones, it’s gonna sink or swim in your estimation based on how much you like the riffs – that’s the centerpiece here. “Cyanide Hand Grenades” deliver…”Welcome to the Land of the Dead” and “Movie of Me” are welcome changes of pace, but like some of the other tracks on the album, they can over stay their welcome a bit. They take an interesting turn in the last couple songs, dipping into psychy reverb-laden space drift, but if these were scattered throughout the album, I’d probably be more intrigued…it feels like a strange coda in the current track listing.

With bands like this that focus on the humungo riffs, they either punch you in the nose and are gone, or they have to have enough tricks to keep the intensity up. Vulture Kult does this with equal proportion of hits to misses – I’ll file this under “probably a killer live show.”

LISTEN: Bandcamp

BUY: Vulture Kult

RATING: 8.3/10

If you’re looking for pop hooks, go somewhere else – Cellos has none of that nancy bullshit. If you want tight playing and muscular noise-rock fury, this Ontario band’s got it in spades. This all-too-short LP packs a mighty punch, beginning with opener “Sea Legs,” featuring appropriately seasick guitars. The woozily swinging, yet driving pace of the song, combined with the maniac yowling vocals make JESUS LIZARD comparisons really, really fucking appropriate. What makes both that band and Cellos great are that they realize sometimes there’s more power in ebbs and flows, rather than simply throwing up a wall of noise and letting the whole album flatline on track 2. They understand that pedal-to-the-metal intensity becomes boring, or worse, comical after a while. There’s poison and venom leaking from every second of this release, but this band knows how to manage themselves, holding back momentarily or leading the listener down a false path, but can knock his teeth out with a searing dissonant interval only a second later.

There’s some really heavy riffage on this album, but where another band might use it to lay down a groove or ease listeners in, Cellos use it to keep us on edge – angular, nervous, and typically borderline-atonal – it’s well done. I’m especially impressed by the HOMOSTUPIDS-esque “Mass Production Scheme” and the cheekily-named “Hit Song,” which might be the most ferocious cut on here. It’s also remarkable how well this album is produced – the guitars all sound amazing, and the vocals sit just high enough in the mix. This is no shit-stained basement tape – again, this band is really great at avoiding the cliche pitfalls of their genre. By the time this record ends, it’s a little tough to recall what you’ve just heard – what leaps out is the intensity, and certain moments, like the massive guitar build on “The Greys” – but that’s not a judgement on the quality of the record here. Every track is worth its play time, and this LP will undoubtedly see many repeat plays – to my ears, a rare feat for noise-rock.

LISTEN: Cellos Bandcamp

BUY: Dead Beat Records (cool gold wax!)

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