Tuesday, 9 June 2020

River Cult - Chilling Effect (Album Review)

Release date: May 1st 2020. Label: Tee Pee Records / Nasoni Records. Format: DD/Vinyl

Chilling Effect – Tracklisting

1.Chilling Effect 11:29
2.Left Hand Path 06:16
3.Neo Dog 03:11
4.Red Return 06:27
5.Fool's Gold 07:44


Sean Forlenza: Guitar/Vocals
Anthony Mendolia: Bass
Tav Palumbo: Drums/Synthesizer


Psychedelic Stoner Rockers River Cult return with their new album Chilling Effect and this comes after 2018’s acclaimed debut full length – Halcyon Days – which showed the band’s strength in creating Spaced Out Psychedelic Themes against 60s/70s Hard Rock with a cool Stoner Rock/Metal atmosphere. This album offers a similar style of music but it seems River Cult have trimmed some of the Progressive sounds heard on their last album and firmly remain in the world of Psychedelic Spaced Out Rock.

The opening song – Chilling Effect – is almost 12 minutes of Classic Rock being given a Psychedelic/Stoner Rock makeover with a heavy Space Rock presence. The sound feels quite “Indie Rock” and “Alternative Rock” at times but it works superbly well. The heavy guitars are loud and dynamically fresh in places with Sean’s vocals having an eerie 60s/70s Hard Rock approach especially when the heavier and dramatic moments appear. The song is the most “Progressive” track on the album that has a distinctive “Drone” vibe to it on the later stages of the song. The song is most definitely the standout song the album possess with River Cult playing some truly magnificent Tripped Out Psychedelic Doom Rock for the last remaining moments of the song.

Second song – Left Hand Path – opens with a more restrained approach with a simply played guitar and Tav’s great drumming bringing a more suspenseful style of Psychedelic Stoner Rock with an almost “Jam-Rock” vibe that is part of River Cult’s overall sound. The heavy feedback from the guitars brings a more mature and grown-up sound and the Punk Rock lyrics the band have written for this song allow River Cult to bring a more emotional edge to the whole feel of the entire album.

River Cult carry on the jagged Psychedelic Rock approach for the remaining 3 songs of the album with the band expertly moving between moments of Heavy Doom Rock and their trademark Psychedelic Stoner Metal grooves. The band are primarily still a Power Trio with the emphasis on POWER. As there is hidden depth and volume behind the riffs the band have written for the album.

The 60s/70s Classic Hard Rock environment is what makes this album really stand out as the band have really done their homework and focused on bringing out the best elements of that legendary musical period whilst giving it a more modern spin.

The final two songs – Red Return and Fool’s Gold – are the other standout songs on the album with River Cult making sure they have enduring appeal for the Stoner Rock/Metal masses.

If you’re a fan of Halcyon Days then be prepared for a much better album with River Cult not being beaten by the well-known “Second Album Curse” or “Sophomore Slump” that’s besieged bands in the past. Chilling Effects is a classic sounding album in every sense of the term and this is an essential album to own.

Words by Steve Howe