Cist were a band that I hand picked from a list of about sixty albums that were distributed to our reviewers. One of the things that I do is check out the band on YouTube if I had not heard of them before. After looking at a few other bands, I was about to give up on this list and gave my last shot to Cist. The opening riff of this EP, The Frozen Casket, had me hooked and I immediately grabbed this EP to review with both hands.
Cist was formed by guitarist Nikolay in 2014, along with vocalist Vitaliy and drummer Mikhail. Old school death metal worship of the highest order was created. This version of the EP is being released by Redefining Darkness and has eight songs of crushing brutality that hark back to the days, when death metal was creeping its ugly way into the world. For those who want to experience it in its true old-school glory, Camo Pants Records are also re-issuing it as a cassette (and, conversely, as a digital download)!
Opening track “Antiseptic” made me ask myself if I had selected the right album to listen to as I thought I had played Death and the classic Leprosy album. There are so many bands that look to replicate the sounds of the old gods but Death’s legendary sophomore release is one that has rarely been matched. The sound of this album is reminiscent of that era and the vocals of Vitaliy are as close to Chuck as you will ever get. There are also elements of early Pestilence in the riffs from Nikolay and again in the vocals of Vitaliy in the faster parts of the song. This is as good as you are going to get for the old school death metal fan. Even the guitar solos are reminiscent of the old days with Chuck and Kam trading solos left, right and centre.
“Incubation” starts off with an early Obituary style riff and as the song progresses, there is more of the early Pestilence/Asphyx formula and when it’s played this good, you can’t help but smile and enjoy it. Cist are certainly tight musicians and although not doing anything original, they certainly know how to construct a song. Death metal is all about head banging and this song and the EP in general gets you to do this in abundance. “Injected Obsession” is where I have to mention drummer Mikhail is as close to Bill Andrews as you will ever get, and has mastered the old school way of drumming to perfection. Nothing is out of place and the song structure is just perfect.
“Mitosis Simulation” starts off with a thrash feel in both riffs and drums, which is not a bad thing in my book. Crisp, crunchy, filthy riffs reminiscent of the transition from thrash to death metal at the beginning are the order of the day. Early Pestilence is more of a reference for this one as some of the riffs could have been written by Mameli himself. Another crushing song that makes me want to hear more. “Cryonesia” is back to the Scream Bloody Gore- and Leprosy-era Death though Cist add their own flavour to the mix to keep everything sounding fresh. Cist know how to pack a punch with their songs and to hit where it hurts.
This version of the EP from Redefining Darkness Records has come with an extra three bonus tracks. First of those, and title track, “Chemical Tomb” from their first EP in 2015 has more of a thrash element and shows signs of what they have now become. The drumming style is much more thrash in vein and the riffs are from the thrash heyday taking their influences from Kreator, Sodom and early Pestilence. Even a band that was so young at the time of this recording are showing promise and professionalism.
Of the two songs from this EP, I must say that I prefer “Imitator”, as there is a much stronger Obituary influence, especially in the vocal department from Nikolay. This got me head banging like mad again and there are more time changes in the song than anything else Cist have produced. I could go as far as to say that this is one of their best songs they have ever written and one that I have had on repeat often. With the final song (and title track from their first ever single, released in 2014) “Synthetic Life”, Cist show the world what is to come from them. Again it’s more death metal in vocal style, backed by thrash riffs and drums. Cist have shown variety in their songs and Testimony of the Ancients Pestilence era is again a reference but maybe also some Atheist.
Since their inception in 2014, Cist have grown and matured into a band that all of us should take notice of. For a scene that has lasted for thirty years now, it’s hard for any band to be original these days so why not show your appreciation to the way it used to be. So many of the original bands have progressed and forgotten how things used to sound in the early days, so the world needs bands like Cist to remind everybody of how the death metal scene used to kick you in the face, rip your guts out and leave them to fester on your rotting corpse. There really is an old school death metal movement at the moment and I urge fans of this style to give Cist a listen as this is as close as to the old ways as you will ever get. Hail Cist!
The Frozen Casket (Redefining Darkness release) is out in late April