posted on 11/2011 By:
San Diego’s Leather Nun has released four full-length albums in five years, but this is my first exposure to the band. On the dubious strength of Kult Occult, however, I don’t know that I’ll be diving into the band’s back catalog anytime soon. Seriously grooving Black Sabbath worship is the order of the day, with fuzzy as hell guitars and occasionally bluesy flourishes. This doom/rock brew casts a glance at psychedelia from time to time, calling to mind Monster Magnet or Orange Goblin, and though the vocals are a bit Wino-ish at times, Leather Nun never comes off the better for these lofty comparisons, and Kult Occult remains a woefully middling affair.
Opening track “Murderkkult” meanders into view with one of the straightest old-school doom riffs that the album will muster, before tripping into a faster section for the guitar solo. The overall feel is more or less right throughout the song, but even a cursorily close listen reveals extremely basic chops and derivative riffs, which ends up being the story of the whole album. “Indra” has some pretty excellent riffing, but the drumming that supports it is so rudimentary that it detracts from the overall impact. And then, just when the band has built the tiniest bit of momentum, the next song is acoustic and exceedingly bland. It’s not disastrous on its own terms, but it’s a real head-scratcher in terms of album sequencing; imagine if “Solitude” was the second tune on Master of Reality instead of the seventh.
The remainder of the album proceeds with occasional sections of a nice toe-tapping groove smattered between dull plodding (“Born Cold” is the worst offender in this department), odd sequencing choices, and momentum killers. Leather Nun never hits a forceful or heavy enough stride to feel properly doomed, but also never gets loose or bluesy enough to kick out any truly satisfying jams. Between the overlong samples introducing the opening and closing tracks and the acoustic numbers (“Lasting Dose,” “Sacrosanct,” and “Damiana,” the latter of which reeks much too strongly of “Stairway to Heaven”), Leather Nun has taken nearly ten minutes out of an already concise album. Now, feel free to call me old-fashioned, but if you’re only giving yourself 36 minutes to make an impression, fucking about with obnoxious samples and three jangly acoustic swooshes seems colossally misguided. There is absolutely nothing offensive about Kult Occult, but hell, isn’t that the problem?
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