Saturday 10 February 2018

River Cult - Halcyon Days (Album Review)

Release date: 9th February 2018. Label: Nasoni Records/Magnetic Eye Records/Blackseed. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Halcyon Days – Tracklisting

1.Likelihood of Confusion 07:19
2.The Sophist 11:56
3.Seething 07:31
4.Halcyon Daze 07:01
5.Point of Failure 07:59


Sean Forlenza,
Anthony Mendolia,
Tav Palumbo


So here I am breaking my self-imposed two week exile from reviewing albums to review an album. I just can’t keep away at times. However I've made an exception with the new album from Psychedelic Stoner Rockers – River Cult and their debut album – Halcyon Days.

Newly signed to Magnetic Eye Records, this album sees the band creating a huge vortex of different sounds that manages to successfully weave the different strands of Classic Rock with a leaner and heavier modern Stoner Rock groove.

Opening track – Likelihood Of Confusion – is pure Classic Rock nostalgia for the first few minutes as River Cult bring a seventies stadium rock sound before opening the doors to a heavy Progressive Stoner Rock vibe. The riffs have a “jam-based” feel to them with the band taking influence from All Them Witches and Earthless at times. Though River Cult have a few tricks up their sleeves to surprise people with. Around the fourth minute mark River Cult turn into a cinematic Post-Rock style band. Something that I didn’t expect at all. The whole feel and flow of the song changes for the better as the band introduce epic psychedelic sounds which becomes a common theme for the album.

Second track – The Sophist – opens with a progressive post-rock sound you would expect from the likes of Pelican or Russian Circles. Though the sound soon gives way to a more Post-Doom/Psych Stoner Rock style of music. The vocals are vastly different to the opening song. As they’re more forceful and even angrier at times. The powerful drum and bass combo allows River Cult to become a more powerful and cohesive unit. The thundering Post-Doom influences slowly take over as River Cult creates the albums standout track. With the song running past the eleven minute mark, River Cult has time to experiment with their sound and that they do. Different noises and sonic experimentation have a drone based feel.

Third track – Seething – sees River Cult carrying on the psychedelic stoner rock vibe with the band focusing on creating a more modern sounding atmosphere. The music has a slight alternative feel but for the most part this is another superbly played track by River Cult. The band exhibits the same sonic heaviness that Blue Cheer became famous for. This song has a similar feel to that legendary band. However River Cult adds a more progressive proto-doom metal sound. The psychedelic sounds are raw and ferocious at times. With River Cult providing the audience with another one of the albums finest songs.

Up next is the title track - Halcyon Daze – leaving the instrumental rock songs behind as the cool vocals appear. This song is another heavy slab of psychedelic riff worship. It has an Earthless style influence with the riffs having an epic cool “Jam” based sound. I would love to see and experience this song being performed LIVE. As River Cult expand their music to include elements of Spaced Out Rock that really allows their music to expand to higher levels of genuine excitement.

The final track Point of Failure is perhaps the one song that I have the most problems with. I’ll say this now it’s a very good song indeed. As River Cult play a more straight forward classic rock song. It lacks the originality and excitement of the other songs on the album. This song feels it was written and recorded by a different band. The song can be too slow at times though it’s still undeniably heavy when the mood gets going. The vocals aren’t as strong compared to the other songs on the album. However I admire River Cult’s ability to change their sound yet again and the song does contain some fantastically heavy classic rock riffs.

Halcyon Daze is expertly produced and the overall sound of the album is impressive indeed. River Cult is a genuinely exciting and hugely talented band that demands your attention. They’re perhaps one of the best “Power-Trio” style bands I’ve heard in a very long time. This is an album you need to listen over and over again to experience the full effect. River Cult has such an expansive and different sound compared to their more established peers. If River Cult aren’t performing at some of the world’s most prestigious Psych, Doom and Stoner Metal festivals in the next few years then there is no justice in the world.

Halcyon Daze is a must-have album. End Of.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Jadd at Red Lead Media & PR for the promo.

You can buy the vinyl here from Nasoni Records