To find yourself going first to Primordial, Cruachan and Mourning Beloveth when Ireland’s contribution to metal comes to mind can easily be forgiven. What can’t, though, is stopping there, as you’re missing out on more than a few newcomers that are well worth your listening time.
Far from a new arrival, but possibly under the radar of most, Zealot Cult had but a demo and self-released EP to show for the band’s decade of existence, but now stand poised (they hope) to stake their claim beyond the Emerald Isle with Spiritual Sickness.
The first thing experienced ears will notice is the similarity of vocalist/guitarist Jay Quigley’s voice to a certain Tardy in a certain band, so let’s move that elephant right on out of the room and evaluate Zealot Cult on their own merits, of which they have a good share.
Churning malevolence is the name of the game with “Sea Of Suffering,” tar-thick riff waves crashing and breaking against a granite wall of rhythm, a bit of Asphyx’s later work (think The Rack) being touched upon. Another high point is the tasteful use of dual leads courtesy Quigley and Mick Carey, noticeable in every tune to some degree, but also in the head-down, grinding machine that is “Blades Of Jihad,” scimitar-sharp and deadly.
To be fair, Zealot Cult ain’t gonna win a lot of points for originality with Spiritual Sickness, but what they have done is potentially even more worthy of checking out: a solid death metal album recalling the genre’s formation, yet neither mired in the muck of “old school” cult, nor beholden to any one band as a point of reference. Spread this disease…