Cult of Sorrow sounds like Black Sabbath as fronted by Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. Yes, such a collaboration resulted in the oddity known as Born Again in 1983, but the Cincinnati group has a much more 70s approach in mind. Comparisons could also be made to traditional doom revivalists like Hour of 13 and Briton Rites as the guitar tone is somewhere between retro fuzz and a dark crunch, while the occult lyrics are delivered by a mid-range vocal that opts for melody without sounding too operatic or melodramatic.
The songwriting also attempts to put the vocal lines on equal footing with the riffs, resulting in an approach that is pretty hooky by doom standards and thankfully never feels forced. While the eight songs on Ascension largely opt for a steady mid-tempo pace, the songs manage to avoid sounding alike. “Eternal Love” makes for a welcoming opener while “In Nomine” stands out for its bluesy shuffle and “Dance of the Dead” for its more upbeat tempo.
With that said, the band may need a little more oomph into its delivery. The instruments are all mixed well but one feels that the riffs could use a little more power or that the vocals could stand to be slightly more commanding. Some of this feeling could be attributed to the rather dry production job as it does make the drums in particular sound stilted despite a competent performance. It’s not a deal breaker but one can imagine how much stronger the band will sound with more confidence behind them.
Overall, Cult of Sorrow’s Ascension will sit well with listeners who seek a pleasant slice of no bullshit traditional doom. While the band may still be waiting for a certain spark to set off, the performances are competent and the songwriting is consistently enjoyable. There may be more exciting trips to take down the Left Hand Path, but Ascension still makes for a fun stroll that’ll undoubtedly get even more riveting with time.
Ascension can be purchased from Cult of Sorrow’s Bandcamp page .