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Review of Severance “New Cult” single

 

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Severance, dark rock band out of Monterrey, Mexico, is about to release the first single NEW CULT off their forthcoming album, THRESHOLDS. Consisting of vocals/lyricist and guitarist Rul Delirio, lead guitarist Carlo “Bam-Bam” Vargas, drummer Marco Soma and bassist Hugo “Altered Beast” Guererro, the band has been together and putting out material since 2013. They have garnered a nice following in Mexico and via international radio show podcasts, but are very excited about this self-released debut album.

NEW CULT is a uniquely powerful song, nicely crafted with impressive sonic dynamics, that speaks of mistakes, past pain, negativity, and humanity’s endless need to worship and to seek false prophets out of fear. It opens reflectively with lilting chime-like guitar, and a bass that adds lyrical touch just before the serene flow of Delirio’s vocals ease in. His words are substantive yet poetic, with interesting cadence not reflected by the written text:

“Nothing hiding under your skin,
through scars and years each of your sins,
Walls have fallen, names forgotten,
This is the end of these times of need.”

At brief moments, Delirio’s voice takes on an other-worldly tone quality evocative of Peter Murphy, with an interesting intensity that stays contained even though the musical line rises. During the B-part that allows Vargas’ lead guitar to shine, the vocals almost seem to get even more placid, yet lovely to the ear. This is an odd and thus effective juxtaposition, as he intensely sings with still-demure affect, of the ‘immensity of the will’ in man’s seeking some god, any god….

But the hidden gem of this piece is not the ethereal beauty of its dark melodic strains and harmonies. It is the change-up that is about to come in the song’s proclamation.In the chorus, it is as if Delirio’s voice takes on a timbre unrecognizable, giving the illusion of dropping a register or two. The heavy, full-throated (yet still musical) explosiveness of his chosen words bellow and soar at the song’s pivot here:

“Young blood, this is new cult,

New Breed know your old god,
Young blood this is new word,
Show your love.”

Powerfully impressive, this transformation of sorts happens even without full band raise of volume. It certainly feels as if the song kicks in here, but it is solely voice. The drama so evident in many dark bands is not at all a forced element here, but instead feels organic… and as such, especially potent. This dynamic change of immense proportion, all in vocals, is indeed the song’s greatest quality.  (And the only criticism of the single might be that the vocals could stand to come out even just a touch more.)

Soma’s drums get a chance to show variety and shine during the transitions to and from the chorus and lead guitar creates an excellent atmosphere throughout. Guererro’s bass is relentlessly strong and a good partner with the rhythm guitar, and there many well-placed shimmering chordal accents throughout the song.
With this single as symbol of the full album about to be released, Severance perhaps is crossing a threshold of their own, moving into before-unreached territory in their body of work. The band members came out of a past born of hardcore punk, and though they have squarely landed now on the chosen side of dark alternative rock, theirs is dark music with evident edge. The influences of Iggy, Type O, perhaps alongside the mainstay sound emulative of Sisters, Mission and Fields of the Nephilim. With both the delicacy and the bite in Delirio’s vocal stylings here (building on some previous voice and guitar edge of older songs), their talent and history in that other camp is still effectively on display, carefully crafted. One could argue that such an element is what keeps their music uniquely distinct and more palpable than any dark band simply going full-force for ethereal effect.

Perhaps humanity’s endless seeking, which Delirio writes hypnotically of in NEW CULT, is fulfilled in a different way in his own life. Music-making seems to be liberating any past negativity surrounding him. He offers a redemptive stanza in the song that is similar to elements in a written description of Severance’s work, in telling “an ancient story”:

What you have lost will return,
the ancient temple will be reborn,
Just bring your hands to the sea,
cast your gaze to eternity….

 

 

NEW CULT is out Nov. 18th via Bandcamp; the full album to follow in December.

 

 

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