Neolithic, Cult of Ignorance (Deep Six Records, 2018)

There's nothing primitive about Baltimore's Neolithic, the vicious and weaponized crust metal group out of Mob Town. Having first caught them decimating stages at Maryland Deathfest, wherein our humble town is joyously ransacked by the black clad masses. Recorded by Kevin Bernstein at Developing Nations and mastered by Brad Boatright of Audiosiege, their Cult of Ignorance EP is a masterclass of metallic, crusty hardcore.

Released by the always reliable Deep Six Records in April, it came hot on the heels with a split that found them sharing wax with legendary Swedes and D-beat destroyers, Martyrdöd. With the co-sign of the masters who dropped the classic In Extremis, the Charm City horde is clearly onto something. Having already been confirmed for Netherlands' 2019 Bloodshed Fest with From Ashes Rise, Iron Lung, Coffins, and more; Neolithic is poised to usher in a new crop fusing death metal, crust, and hardcore in a manner similar to the way great War//Plague did some years back.

In the grand tradition of crust punk, there's an adherence to or perhaps even a duty to announce and embrace resignation in the face of devastation, be it cultural or natural. Though deadly serious and bleak, the embrace of death metal lightens the mood, albeit dimly. As much as Cult of Ignorance reinforces both the classical nihilism and ennui of the disaffected, there's an inherent aggression and violence they possess that’s inspiring. Perhaps it comes from their punk-informed sense of resistance and a willingness to explore our capacity for change. 

Having served time in Pulling Teeth, Putrisect, Swarm of the Lotus, and Ruiner, there's a singular identity they pull from this cross-pollination... raging dis-beat, squealing Integrity-styled guitar leads, the straightforward rampage of hardcore, and the grizzled vocal approach of death metal. To these ears, the vocals manage to seamlessly vacillate between varying degrees of feral with a nearly unmatched ease, recalling the great Tomas Lindberg's tenure with both Skitsystem and Disfear. At times, guttural and expectedly growly, there’s seemingly no level of hell the singer can’t beckon. 

Musically, they tend to stay away from the thrash and black 'n' roll that's long crept its' way into crust, instead leaning far more towards turbo-charged, anvil-heavy riffs. They've more than likely spent some time digesting the militaristic grooves of Bolt Thrower and Asphyx, as well as crust titans Nuclear Death Terror and Stormcrow. “Blinded" starts with Carcass-worthy bludgeon before a blindingly ripping solo that calls to mind Florida greats, The Holy Mountain.

Neolithic are the rare band that'd fit equally well assaulting audiences with the likes of Cult Leader, Tragedy, or Cannibal Corpse.

With a back and forth interplay and a clearly established chemistry, there's an ability to excel with every change of pace, an impeccably written but still mightily savage listen. This is clearly evident as the song steamrolls relentlessly.  The song effortlessly bleeds out into "Rapacity," an absolute barnburner that doubles down on the intensity. With even the tempo ratcheted up, the d-beat fury gives way to flashes of blastbeats, their grindcore influence clearly shining through. The backbone riff is tightly wound and razor sharp, befitting of a group clearly schooled in the crush groove of OSDM. There are hints of the dark and crusty alchemy of Atrament and the grimy death grind peddled by Of Feather and Bone. The vocals, most impressively, call upon an even more subtle black metal style that manages to conjur a darkness all the more sinister. 

Photo: Josh Sisk

The title track of the 3-song EP, is an absolute monster. There are subtle guitar runs that run atop an utterly devastating blend of Discharge via tech metal. At the mid-point, the pace slows to a blistering bit of doomy crust before a light-speed reprisal of four to the floor speed. As the song dangerously winds its way to the end, there’s a double kick run that’s paired with an absolutely wretched scream. We’re gifted 10 seconds of ambient feedback and then... it’s all over. As immediate as Neolithic is, the replays pay endless dividends. My only gripe is that I’ll have to wait for a full-length album. Essential crust. Essential metal. Essential hardcore. It’s all in here. 

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