Article By: Tyler Smith ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
River Cult is a heavy psych, stoner rock three-piece based out of Brooklyn, NY. Since 2015, they have released a three-song, self-titled EP, until just this February, with a new full-length ‘Halcyon Daze’.
Released on February 9, 2018, River Cult continues weaving a psychedelic journey through sound with ‘Halcyon Daze’. Consisting of Sean Forlenza on guitar and vocals, Anthony Medolia on bass, and Tav Palumbo on drums, the band comes at you with hints of Pentagram, Electric Wizard, and Blue Cheer. This five-song full-length release is definitely going to be something you’ll want to pick up if any of those names piqué your interest.
This being my first time hearing River Cult, the first track “Likelihood of Confusion” immediately had me wracking my brain to who the tune resembled. The vocals blew me away, instantly reminding me of somewhere in the ballpark of Pentagram or C.O.C.
The combination of the vocals and the guitar work is awesome. Although the vocals are really great, they use them very sparingly, letting the music do most of the work pushing the track along. The drums are amazing – steady and very heavy. Every hit sounds intentionally timed precisely with the changes. The low-end does a great job of fully filling out the song, adding to the fuzzed-out adventure you’re on.
“The Sophist” changes the mood quite a bit. Clocking in at 11:56, this song definitely reminds me of the reason stoner/sludge sounds are named such. The way this band lays out its song structures is amazing. Building each section up covering in tasty licks. At 2:25 there’s a little twig of feedback that I swear if it wasn’t already there, I would’ve wished it were. Little things like that make this a lot of fun to listen to. The drums really caught my attention at around the 6:30 mark. It’s really cool how they can maintain a sound that combines intensity and allows a freedom to it at the same time.
“Seething” really reminds me of Electric Wizard and maybe Pelican. All instrumental, the music itself does all the work. It’s awesome how even though the vocals are great, their choice to not use them all the time stays with me, forcing my attention on the music itself. Little leads constantly weave in and out of the song, providing a lot of moments to bob your head to. It really keeps you guessing and helps break the song into sections.
The album finishes out very strong. The title track “Halcyon Daze” takes you back to the seventies. Reminiscent of Blue Cheer, the vocals come back in a big way here. I swear they have a time machine. This is my favorite track on the EP. “Point of Failure” isn’t far behind, though. It’s a good song to close the album, without being really heavy or fast. The drums towards the end are amazing, hard-hitting, and steady with little fills thrown in here and there until it comes to a slowly crushing and noisy end.
I had never heard of River Cult before this, but you can bet I’m gonna keep up with them now. Hopefully, they’ll come through to the southern states on tour, because I definitely wanna be there. For a band that’s only three years in, this is a great start. The only thing I would wish for is the addition of more vocals, but as I said earlier it’s more that I’m not used to it, not really a problem. The jams themselves hold up extremely well all by themselves.
River Cult‘s ‘Halcyon Daze’ is available thanks to Blackseed Records (CD/Cassette) and Nasoni Records (vinyl). Last I checked, they didn’t have many vinyl records left available. Get one fast. All formats, plus digital streaming and download, are also available through River Cult’s Bandcamp page [here].