Blood Harvest Records has had a busy 2016, with almost every month bringing a new EP, mini-album, or full length from the label worth checking out. One of their latest additions is Ireland’s Zealot Cult, who self-released their newest EP ‘Karmenian Crypt’ on CD in March. Blood Harvest is giving the EP the vinyl treatment on October 24th, and will release the band’s upcoming full length sometime next year. For a band that calls Ireland home, Zealot Cult certainly sounds a lot like American death metal of the Floridian variety. But that’s not a bad thing when they do it this well, and you can hear for yourself as we have an exclusive stream of ‘Karmenian Crypt’ available to check out below.
Over the course of these three songs, you’ll find that Zealot Cult has a great understanding of what makes this particular death metal sound so appealing. The title track kicks things off and is one of the faster songs on the EP, hitting listeners with a faster dose of lurching riffing and blasting drums before settling into a slower, bottom heavy groove. The remaining two songs are where the instrumentals really slow things down considerably and let the riffs expand naturally, lurching forward like the undead. It’s certainly a familiar sound, but some well-placed solos and darker melodies help to give ‘Karmenian Crypt’ a good deal of staying power. There’s something to be said for a band that can nail this darker atmosphere and bottom heavy, denser sound without sounding like a complete clone of one of their old-school influences and that’s where Zealot Cult succeeds. It’s also worth calling attention to the vocal work of Jay Quigely. His raspy, distorted screams are reminiscent of both John Tardy and Martin van Drunen, and on the song Suffocation of the Mind he even heads into some cleaner territory to give off a deranged, schizophrenic feel that perfectly suits that particular piece.
There’s a lot of old-school death metal out there vying for your attention, from both bands that were around during the genre’s early days and newcomers trying to make a name for themselves. But Zealot Cult makes a strong statement with their combination of lumbering grooves and darker melodic leads that remind you of why this genre can be so appealing. ‘Karmenian Crypt’ is out on vinyl October 24th via Blood Harvest. You can also check out an interview we conducted with the band where they talk about this new release and what’s in store for the future!
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. For those just hearing Zealot Cult for the first time, can you give us a brief intro to the band and how you guys came together to play this style of death metal?
Zealot Cult: Cheers! We formed in late 2008 after our previous bands broke up but we’ve known each other for a long time before that from listening to this style of death metal so it was inevitable we would have started a band together.
TO: You scrapped two demos worth of material that were heading in a different direction, returning to old-school death metal that takes influence from many of the great Florida death metal bands. After you decided to return to this style, how long did it take for the three songs on this EP to come together?
Zealot Cult: The material that was scrapped was a bit more complex musically than our first demo plus we had lost our original bass player in the process too. Not saying the material was bad but writing this style of music (‘Karmenian Crypt’) came more naturally to us and has a lot more excitement in it and is more enjoyable to play. It feels right for us to play this style of music.
TO: How does your writing process work? Does each member write parts individually or do you write things together in rehearsals?
Zealot Cult: It’s a mixture of both really. Sometimes we put songs together at rehearsal, other times we’ll work at stuff individually at home and bring it to rehearsal and see how it goes in a full band situation. Everybody has input into every aspect of the music and once it feels right, we get it tight.
TO: ‘Karmenian Crypt’ was originally self-released on CD earlier in 2016. What kind of a response did you get to this material when it first came out?
Zealot Cult: Straight off the bat, we got positive feedback from it. We recorded it quite quickly and didn’t overthink it and sent it to Metalireland.com for review where it received very positive feedback and gathered a bit of buzz. We are overwhelmed with the reviews it’s being getting to be honest.
TO: Blood Harvest will be handling the LP release of the EP, as well as your still to be recorded full length. How did you connect up with the label, and what made them the right one for Zealot Cult?
Zealot Cult: We sent it off to only a handful of labels and immediately Rodrigo of Blood Harvest expressed interest in doing a vinyl of it, he really enjoyed it. After talking to him we felt he was the right person to go with, his label is well respected and recognized and he has a good roster of bands and we’re delighted to be on their roster.
TO: I saw mention of a possible tape release in a previous interview, is this still in the works? With ‘Karmenian Crypt’ soon to be available on vinyl and already available on CD, do you have a preferred format when it comes to releasing music?
Zealot Cult: The tape is still in the works, some details have to be worked out with it at the moment. Personally, I love vinyl and that would be my preferred format but I don’t mind what format our music comes out on as long as people get to hear it and enjoy it.
TO: When it comes to old-school death metal, everyone’s favorites are a little different. What are the records that inspired you the most?
Zealot Cult: Ah, there’s too many to mention, we have our personal favorites but ones we all agree on are Death ‘Human’, ‘Spiritual Healing’, Pestilence ‘Testimony of the Ancients’, Immolation ‘Dawn Of Possession’, ‘Here In After’, Morbid Angel ‘Blessed are the Sick’, Deicide, Obituary…. all that era around the late 80’s early 90’s.
TO: You’re aiming to head into the studio later in the year to record your full length debut. Do you have any early details you can give us about how the writing for the album is shaping up and how it compares to the songs on ‘Karemnian Crypt’?
Zealot Cult: We’re still writing at the moment but we’re aiming to have about nine songs on the album. As far as the direction of the music, it doesn’t stray too far from the vibe on ‘Karmenian Crypt’ but we’re focusing more on little details in each song so that they feel right to us. It will still be total death metal.
TO: You recently had the chance to open for Akercocke in Dublin, what was that experience like? Do you have any other shows lined up for the remainder of the year?
It was great to play with Akercocke, they were really cool guys and we had a laugh with them, there was a really good turnout for the show. Next shows that are coming up for us are The Siege Of Limerick Fest on Oct 30th which has Dead Congregation headlining, we’re part of a bill in Dublin on New Year’s Eve that Destroyer 666 are headlining and we will be supporting Napalm Death early next year in our hometown, we’re very excited about these upcoming shows.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Karmenian Crypt’ or Zealot Cult?
Zealot Cult: ‘Karmenian Crypt’ is being released on October 24th on vinyl through Blood Harvest Records, there’s material streaming from it on the Blood Harvest Bandcamp too so check it out. Other than that, we hope to have our debut album ready to record towards the end of the year and out next year on Blood Harvest. Thanks for the interview!!
Zealot Cult | Blood Harvest Records