Review Summary: Occult Fleetwood Mac...
Nottingham’s Church of the Cosmic Skull are one of the most notable emerging psychedelic bands in the underground scene lately. This genre spawns dozens of acts each year, all doing pretty much the same thing. Ideally, a band should find some sort of combination that hasn’t been beaten to death. Luckily, these fellows owe more to ‘70s pop music rather than heavier acts, thus, channeling the likes of Fleetwood Mac or even Jefferson Starship through an occult filter (pretty much like Ghost and their ABBA influences). This way, you get a very fun mix of psych pop with rock leanings.
As a unit, the Church of the Cosmic Skull’s dogma is to ‘seek to free mankind from their material possessions and unify all living beings into a singular cosmic whole…’. This, plus the all-white attire and rainbow-filled artwork create a colorful background upon which to present their music. They pushed for opposite features than the usual preferred occult directions (witches and weed being some of the most prominent) and it works better than expected. Meanwhile, the music is downright catchy and that’s what matters most. The title track is a passionate ditty, starting with some mid-tempo, organ-assisted riffs, only to switch to musical-esque choruses. There’s that vintage touch given to the whole production as well as the vocal approaches. This is what makes Science Fiction
such an effective throwback to classic pop/rock music. The piano and organ leads take over on ‘Go to the River’, while the gorgeous voices sing in unison. Same goes for ‘Cold Sweat’, which combines these elements with a cool, deep bass line. On the final chorus, that octave jump is magical, I love it.
On the debut LP, Is Satan Real"
the Church of the Cosmic Skull proved they write lovely ballads too. Thankfully, they included a couple here to diversify the output. ‘The Others’ and ‘The Devil Again’ are lush, subdued numbers, sharing mournful organ chords, powerful guitar solos and beautiful vocal performances. Every detail is carefully arranged and the singing is flawless (throughout the entire record actually). What I hoped to hear though, was more of that acoustic guitar that made ‘Answers in Your Soul’ such a breath of fresh air on the preceding album. I don’t mind the focus on keyboards, yet that song was a nice counterpart that could’ve been exploited more even if just as a companion to the main instruments. Moving on, lying in between the quiet and hyperactive tunes are ‘Revolution Comes with an Act of Love’ & ‘The Cards that You’re Playing’, whose steady tempos bring forth some riffs. The former bursts during the epic choruses, whereas the latter channels bluesy grooves. Again, the vocal interplay is one of the biggest strengths, creating some of the best moments on Science Fiction
Overall, Church of the Cosmic Skull found a winning combination of pop, psychedelia and rock. These are all seasoned musicians and you can observe that right from the first listen. This is old school music that harkens back to the golden ‘70s, only given a contemporary spark. Everything is so accessible, you don’t need to accommodate yourself to it. Moreover, the occasional occult themes make things even more interesting and fun, creating a link for those who prefer darker touches. It’s not an easy audience to win over, but I believe these guys have the skills and charisma to grab the attention of both audiences.