By Dr. Abner Mality

AAAARRGGH, matey, 'tis a grim crew of marauders we have here! Cruising in from the Land Down Under, the piratical fiends of Cauldron Black Ram have been a potent name in the underground for a while now, but this is the first chance I've had to clap ears on 'em. And what a dirty, barnacle-encrusted piece of unclassifiable filth "Stalagmire" is!

Really hard to put any kind of a tag on CBC except dark and scummy. A rancid combination of death and doom metal, with copious traces of classic heavy metal thrown into the mix, but with the whole dragged screaming and bleeding through ten miles of swampland. It's not just the production that makes the music here sound so murky and black, it's something in the riffing and playing itself. Word has it that one of the lads has shipped out with the incomprehensible Portal and that I can believe. Imagine Portal slowed way down and drawing influence from the NWOBHM, maybe that's a good description of Cauldron Black Ram. Or not. Because they are their own animal, that's for sure.

Anyhoo, the fiends smash skulls and break bones from the get-go on "Fork Through Pitch". "Maw" shows just how hard it is to put a tag on the band. This starts incredibly sludgy and doomy but by the mid-section, they are playing almost Thin Lizzy-ish twin guitar solos. Vocals can be anything from a belch to a black metal shriek to guttural groans and even a bit of Gregorian chant on "Spellogenesis". And the vocals appear at odd times in odd places, never exactly where they "should" be.

I dare say virtually every cut here earns its keep onboard the Good Ship "Stalagmire". Interesting and brutal riffs abound, with an overall doomy, gloomy feel. Add in the fact that these hellrakes are inspired by the pirates of yore and ye have one foul but fierce jug o' grog here. Raise them black sails and head south with Cauldron Black Ram!