Album Review: Cardinal Wyrm – Devotionals

Album Review: Cardinal Wyrm - Devotionals

Album Review: Cardinal Wyrm - Devotionals
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Think of the Bay Area of California and you think of thrash metal. No doubt about it. So, it was a bit of surprise to discover that Cardinal Wyrm also hail from the Bay Area. Having been active since 2009, the band play a heavy, psychedelic fused style of doom that also contains a significant gothic feel. The band was formed by guitarist Nathan Verrill who along with drummer and vocalist Pranjal Tiwari were the duo who recorded the band’s previous three long players. Now joined by bassist Leila Abdul-Raff (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune), ‘Devotional’ is the band’s fourth album.

Album Review: Cardinal Wyrm - Devotionals

Cardinal Wyrm clearly forge their own path. Their music a combination of 1970s and the current day doom. Downtuned guitars, relentless bass lines, huge riffs and freestyle drumming underpin unique and crazed vocals. The opening tracks ‘Gannet’ and ‘Mirtyunjaya’ are both raucous, runaway songs, uninhibited in their freedom and driving power. Things take a much steadier pace on the first part of ‘Imposter’, before a huge riff cracks the sky. The vocals are harrowing at times, almost gasping, yet eerily compelling.

Unsurprisingly for a doom album, the eight tracks stretch over 50 minutes. There is plenty of early Sabbath influences but Cardinal Wyrm’s music is significantly different. The style delivery of Tiwari fluctuates on each track, with his style on ‘Canticle’ echoing the early goth kings of Eldritch, McCoy and Hussey. Verrill’s fuzzed up guitar work is impressive, with blistering lead breaks erupting from the hazed-up fusion which develops around him. The Stomp of ‘Abbess’ comes complete with demonic utterings from Abdul-Raff.

With some doom bands you can anticipate their style within minutes of their first song. Not so with Cardinal Wyrm who like to vary the style. There is something different on every track and that’s what makes this such an interesting album. Sure, there is a consistency between opener ‘Gannet’ and the penultimate ferocity of ‘Nightmarchers’, but they hardly overlay each other. There are numerous influences so it becomes almost impossible and welcome that you can’t pin them down. By the time you arrive at final song ‘Do We Have Another Battle Left In Us’, a calm, ethereal opening that haunts before it expands and develops into a rolling punk crusted slab of chaos. It’s a fitting end to an album that is intriguing, challenging and well worth a dip into.

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