Review: Kultika – Capricorn Wolves

If ever there has been a weird year in my life, it must have been 2020. With the holiday season in full motion, copiousness and happiness usually determine the day, but the restrictions the Covid virus forced us to place on ourselves has put a serious dent in this tradition. This has left many of us, including myself, in various stages of confusion and there’s nothing better to underline that with a nice, preferably abundantly atmospheric piece of music. In theory the post-metallers of Kultika should be able to fulfill my every need here. This Timisoara, Romania based post-metal band, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Jack Popescu, guitarist Fulmineos, bassist Marcel Iovanov and drummers Sergiu Nadaban and Marius Muntean, was formed in 2008, making it one of the first bands in this genre in their home country. Let’s see if the aforementioned theory will be proven by reality with their latest release. It’s their third full-length and sixth overall release which is called Capricorn Wolves. It contains six songs, spanning a genre-correct total of 47 minutes.

If anything opener Building Nothingness Inside Faith has a promising title where it comes to atmosphere. With its ten minute length the epic piece takes up a large portion of the total playing time and its slow, sweetly dragging intro instantly gets me in the right mood. The effect is intensified as the doomy song slowly progresses all the while unleashing its power and aggression. Jack’s growls and, later in the song, clean vocals are a huge contributor to all this, but in fact the entire line up does a fantastic job here. Great kick off. As you all know a great start sets the expectations for the rest of the music a lot higher, which sadly quite often proves to be too high a hurdle for many a band. Although successor Under the Hollow Sun certainly is not a bad song, Kultika still suffers from this problem as well, though only to a limited extent. The song lacks the aggressiveness the opening track had and with the moody piece of the track just over the halfway point the song threatens to die out rather meaningless. Luckily the power returns as the end of the song nears, pulling it out of the slump.

Title song Capricorn Wolves, next in line, unveils yet another different vibe in the tunes, showing the guys are not shy of stepping into various corners of the metal world. This time there’s a subtle yet distinct black metal vibe embedded in the song at times adding a whole new atmospheric effect to the already rich arsenal that is to be found on this release. Apart from the aforementioned black metal influences, those that pay attention will hear more or less striking influences from death metal (I Have Returned, A Fixed Reality for Prometheus’ Identity), progressive metal (almost every song), psychedelic rock (also almost every song) and even some subtle screamo (Capricorn Wolves, I Have Returned), triggering resemblances to a wide variety of bands ranging from Alan Parsons to Tool.

Add to the above the fact that, once again genre-correct, there is no fixed song structure and very few sing-along parts and you can safely conclude this is a release that contains highly varied songs with a wide range of influences from many different genres of music. The vocals are the most striking feature here, spanning pretty much every thinkable variety safe from high pitched shrieks, but that in no way degrades the performance of the other band members. Together they have weaved an intricate whole that constantly change in speed, intensity and atmosphere. There’s a few weaker parts here and there, especially the middle section of Under the Hollow Sun, but overall it’s a valuable asset regardless. There are worse ways to end the weirdest year ever and seamlessly flow into a new year with room for hope.

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