Released on Friday 3 February 2023 via Acephale Winter Productions.
Quite by accident, this appears to be the week for focusing on single-member artists. Although on this album, founder and sole member Nicholas “Balan” Katich is joined by a cast of ‘thousands’.
Formed in the California bay area in 2007, avant metal project Palace of Worms has a diverse and accomplished body of work that reflects its creator’s eccentric and often bizarre tastes and sensibilities. From the project’s early origins as a raging and misanthropic black metal band to its more recent releases which incorporate influences such as doom, death, progressive, ambient, and electronica, each Palace of Worms release is a completely new experience. Sole member Nicholas “Balan” Katich sees no point in marinating in the stagnant pools of orthodoxy and believes evolution to be the true path.
Cabal (2023) is the latest and final full-length statement from the project.
Keeping with past tendencies towards unpredictability, Cabal presents a wholly different approach than the mostly post-black metal sound of the previous full-length album The Ladder (2016). Where The Ladder flirted with progressive rock and doom sounds, this album fully embraces these influences and throws elements of deathrock, electronica, folk, and death metal into the quagmire. What results is the most personal and accomplished work the project has ever produced and its themes reflect its creator’s worldview after forty years on the planet. It casts the past in darkness but also looks cautiously forward, ever searching for the light to guide its narrator into a hopeful future.
Cabal is complex and layered album that presents kaleidoscopic visions of subterranean carnival netherworlds, pale winter skies dotted with ravens, moonlit necropolises which play host to clandestine, and diabolical rituals, and the metaphorical immolation of the ego from which the phoenix of transcendence and ecstatic freedom will arise. Light and dark refracting through the broken prism of the mind’s eye over eight tracks. It truly is the playground of monsters.
Review score: 75%
Anubi Press contacted me inviting me to preview Palace of Worms forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Anubi Press or Palace of Worms. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Anubi Press, and to Palace of Worms for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.