[Reviewed by: Damiano Lanzi]
The New York based project Cult of Youth belongs to the neofolk/industrial movement, but it has very few things in common with its European counterparts and their lyricism. There is a much more punk attitude, the no-wave influenced electric guitar often assumes a primary role, while the folk elements (like the fast-strummed acoustic guitar) clearly derive from the North American tradition. The punk factor can be found not only in the hardcore vocals or the aggressiveness of the music, but also in the self destructive and individualistic spirit of Sean Ragon, the mind behind Cult of Youth.
It’s immediately evident how Ragon is involved here even on an emotional plan: he has conceived this album by himself, “at home”, as is written in the liner notes, in a period of deep depression. It seems like “Filthy Plumage In An Open Sea!”, with its destructive and cathartic force, is meant to be a breaking point into the author’s life. The effort of writing and recording it alone is a pledge paid to the past, and surely the effect wouldn’t have been so strong with the cooperation and influence of other people. The result could seem rough, but the author’s personality and his struggle are clearly recognizable in every aspect of the music.
The EP opens with “Lace Up Your Boots”, maybe the angriest song of the album, but there are also dreamy electric guitars surrounding the tribal rhythmic pattern. The second piece “And The Sky Will Open”, has a Latin guitar and piano arrangement and a vocal line that recalls Death in June of the “Rule of Thirds” period. “Eihwaz” is the most interesting moment, with its martial, powerful drums à la Luftwaffe and its trumpet, interplaying in the middle of the song with the guitar solo. Towards the end, the song implodes in an increasingly noisy guitar, reminiscent of the rudimentary experiments by Velvet Underground in “White Light/White Heat”.
“Decency” is in the same style, but more brief and essential, while “Traitorous Blood” is enriched by the string arrangement, that brings tension and enforces the harmony in the chorus. “Bottomed Out” has an interesting tremolo bass line, one of the many examples of lo-fi, but yet effective production techniques in this project. The amateur approach to recording and production is carried on by Ragon in an experimental way that in the end makes Cult of Youth’s sound particular and distinctive.