Occult” hard rock is a small but steadily-growing trend. Thus far, it has been almost entirely an exercise in nostalgia, its practitioners content to copy Blue Öyster Cult and Coven. Bands like Ghost and The Devil’s Blood have done a fantastic job of it, but they haven’t brought anything new to the table. New York’s Occultation is going to change that.
Like other bands in the movement, it might be a stretch to call what Occultation does metal. If it is, it’s avant-garde doom. If you took Ghost, replaced the vocalist with a woman, and traded the guitarist for the guy from Negative Plane, you would be well on your way to replicating this sound.
Bass is the central instrument, its riffs driving the songs forward and holding things together, while the drums do little more than keep time. Ghost-like vocal melodies provide the hooks, and echo-laden dissonant guitar riffs provide the weirdness. The vocals and guitar make it sound occult, getting extra help in that department from organ and bells.
I’m tempted to say that this is what The Devil’s Blood is trying to be. As far as sounding occult, it’s more convincing. But The Devil’s Blood have their business figured out, and they do what they do perfectly. Occultation is treading new ground. It’s a little rocky in places, but in others it’s revelatory.
The Verdict: Three & Seven is a fantastically interesting record, but it has a lot of room to grow. It’s their next one that will really prove what this band can do. If you have any interest in this style, you owe it to yourself to check this out.