Album Review – Culto Negro / La Noche Oscura del Alma (2022)

This Costa Rican horde will crush your senses with their debut opus, transforming the dark night of the soul into a first-class fusion of Black and Speed Metal.

Forged back in 2015 in the dark pits of Heredia, one of Costa Rica’s most historical cities, Black/Speed Metal horde Culto Negro (which by the way means “black cult” in English) has just unleashed upon humanity their debut full-length opus, beautifully titled La Noche Oscura del Alma, or “the dark night of the soul”, a sulfurous album of old school extreme music that exhales rage and adrenaline. Recorded by the band’s own guitarist Isak Arroyo at Orion Studios, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth Studios, and displaying a sick artwork by Nuno Zuki of Belial NecroArts (with additional artworks by Alan Corpse at Leprous Hands Arts), La Noche Oscura del Alma doesn’t have a single second of peace, offering our avid ears 39 minutes of a sonic Armageddon masterfully crafted by vocalist D.N., guitarists Esteban Sancho and Isak Arroyo, bassist AntiChristopher and drummer Vörago.

More than just a simple intro, Espectro Lunar (“lunar spectrum”) is already a bestial attack by Culto Negro where the riffage by Esteban and Isak is truly infernal, setting the stage for D.N. to kill in Desdoble (“unfold”), a fast and furious hybrid of Black and Thrash Metal that will please all fans of the genre bringing forward an amazing job done by Vörago on drums, keeping the music vibrant and evil from start to finish. Then it’s pedal to the metal as this Costa Rican party has no time to end to the sound of El Quinto Ángulo (“the fifth angle”), where D.N. makes his personal tribute to Hardcore and Punk Rock on vocals while the band’s guitar duo delivers sheer awesomeness through their riffs and solos, followed by Verso Adivinado (“guessed verse”), another frantic, demonic creation by the quintet where AntiChristopher’s bass punches add a touch of dementia to their scorching guitars, while Vörago hammers his drums in a true demented way. And Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos (“knives, chains and mirrors”) sounds like a hellish fusion of the music by Slayer, Motörhead and The Exploited, being therefore a fantastic option for slamming into the pit like there’s no tomorrow.

Get ready to be smashed like a bug by Culto Negro in the venomous Rojo Siniestro (“sinister red”), with D.N.’s vocals sounding more deranged than ever while Vörago keeps dictating the pace with his Punk Rock-infused beats; whereas in Caos o Cosmos (“chaos or cosmos”) the name of the song says it all, offering us all a chaotic sonority from the very first second with Esteban and Isak delivering pure thrashing riffs for our total delight. And such dynamic guitar duo revs up Culto Negro’s engines once again in Salvajes Destructores (“savage destroyers”), highly recommended for some nonstop headbanging and slamming into the pit; while Violencia Psicoactiva (“psychoactive violence”) is Black, Thrash and Speed Metal straight to your jugular, showcasing more of AntiChristopher and Vörago’s infernal kitchen. La Larga Marcha (“the long march”) can be considered the most infernal, brutal and caustic of all tracks where D.N. continues to vociferate like a rabid creature. Put differently, let’s all raise our horns to Culto Negro and their anti-religious extreme music. Last but not least, we have their cover version for Hermética’s Desterrando a los Oscurantistas (“banishing the obscurantists”), which original version can be enjoyed HERE, from Hermética’s 1989 self-titled debut album. It’s indeed an amazing rendition by those Costa Rican metallers, with AntiChristopher hammering his bass in great fashion until the very end.

If you believe you have what it takes to join the black cult ruled by such talented horde form Costa Rica, you can stream  La Noche Oscura del Alma in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase it from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from the Violence Records’ BandCamp page. Culto Negro are also waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram armed with the austere chants found in La Noche Oscura del Alma, showing us all Costa Rica is a metallic country as opposed to what most people think about it. They managed to transform the dark night of the soul into top-tier Extreme Metal in their debut effort, and may their music continue to darken the skies for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: El Quinto Ángulo, Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos and Salvajes Destructores.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Godz ov War Productions/Mythrone Promotion/Violence Records

Track listing
1. Espectro Lunar (Intro) 1:53
2. Desdoble 2:51
3. El Quinto Ángulo 2:52
4. Verso Adivinado 3:29
5. Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos 3:38
6. Rojo Siniestro 3:57
7. Caos o Cosmos 4:02
8. Salvajes Destructores 3:43
9. Violencia Psicoactiva 4:29
10. La Larga Marcha 5:29
11. Desterrando a los Oscurantistas (Hermetica cover) 2:15

Band members
D.N. – vocals
Esteban Sancho – guitars
Isak Arroyo – guitars
AntiChristopher – bass
Vörago – drums

Album Review – Dusk / The Relic (2022)

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, this uncanny Costa Rican entity will darken your mind with their sophomore opus.

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, full of unrelenting, uncaring and pounding blast beats and inhuman growling vocals mixed with modern rhythms such as Darkstep and other electronic influences, Dusk are an Industrial Black Metal project formed as an official band in 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica, highly influenced by the music by Borgne, Perturbator and Blut Aus Nord, just to name a few. Now in 2022 this uncanny entity is back with a new opus, entitled The Relic, their sophomore full-length album following up on their 2021 release The Hermit, as well as on their EP’s Eko (2016), Epoka (2018) and Threnody (2019), showcasing all the talent and insanity of Shaman on vocals, Implacable on the guitar, Pàlak on bass, and Dusk on all programming, synthesizers and effects.

Eerie background noises ignite the opening track Relic I, bringing to our ears infernal bursts of dementia through the riffage by Implacable and all effects blasted by Dusk, while Shaman fires sinister, demonic roars that will haunt your souls in the name of Industrial Metal. Relic II is even more epic and imposing thanks to its dense atmosphere while Implacable keeps slashing his stringed axe accompanied by the low-tuned bass by Pàlak, offering Shaman exactly what he needs to sound like a beast incarnate on vocals. In other words, it’s first-class Industrial Black Metal made in Costa Rica, whereas like the soundtrack to a devilish, underground horror movie it’s time for the quartet to captivate our senses and drag us into darkness with Relic III, where Dusk showcases all his talent as the awesome Industrial Metal musician he is in the most experimental of all songs, evolving into the sonic beast Relic IV, spearheaded by the venomous gnarling by Shaman while Dusk keeps blackening the ambience with his wicked synths and effects in a display of primeval Industrial Metal with an Atmospheric Black Metal vibe. The last of the “relics”, obviously titled Relic V, will darken your thoughts to the sound of the crushing riffs, bass lines and synths by the band, resulting in a beyond Stygian creation that lives up to the legacy of Industrial Black Metal.

The unique and somber music brought into being by Dusk might not be an easy listen at first for the regular rock and metal fan, but after diving deep into their chaotic world of industrial and blackened sounds I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of their demented creations, just like what they have to offer us all in The Relic. Hence, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick compositions, and to purchase their brand new opus soon from their own BandCamp page. Dusk are undoubtedly one of the biggest names of the underground scene in their homeland Costa Rica, sounding more infernal and sinister with each one of their releases and, therefore, leaving us eager for more of their perturbing Industrial Black Metal in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Relic II and Relic IV.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Relic I 7:42
2. Relic II 6:43
3. Relic III 5:39
4. Relic IV 8:09
5. Relic V 8:47

Band members
Shaman – vocals
Implacable – guitar
Pàlak – bass
Dusk – programming, synthesizers, effects