Three years after the release of their self-titled EP, the ‘cold-saggin’ Cult Of The Damned are back, this time with their debut album Part Deux: Brick Pelican Posse Crew Gang Syndicate.
Just over a decade ago, the nine UK emcees, then known as Children Of The Damned (C.O.T.D), released their debut album Tourettes Camp, and it quickly became a success within the hip-hop community.
After the release of Brick Pelican two years later, not much was heard from the crew, with many members adopting new monikers and pursuing different projects. Blah Records founder Lee Scott, with long-time collaborator Milkavelli (previously Monster Under the Bed; Don Silk), released projects as the Mcabre Brothers, and as Cult Mountain, with UK rap troll Trellion.
The crew returned in full effect in 2015, this time as Cult Of The Damned, with new members cemented into the roster. With a haunted beat and hard hitting flows, their self-titled single, taken from the EP, was a sign of things to come.
Fast forward to February 2018, and with the return of the cult looming, the video for “Civilised” was dropped. This is an impressive visual display, with the camera panning from rapper to rapper as they deliver their bars and reaffirm to audiences that they really are ‘ignant’ and ‘ill’. The spooky beat is handled by Sam Zircon and Bisk, sounding like a squeaky old fairground ride, with a bass heavy loop that continues for the entirety of the song.
C.O.T.D veteran Barebase begins proceedings, with his trademark, sing-song style, that leaves listeners feeling like they have just heard a hook rather than a verse. What follows is a shower of one-liners from the cult, with label boss Lee Scott riding the beat in typical Cult Mountain fashion.
Sparing little thought for anything but witty, lazy and satirical remarks, he tells of how he took bread and “left it on the side for the flies” and put “vodka in me Berocca”. The slow paced one-liners are a common theme throughout the song, which gives the impression that the crew are effortlessly spitting this as they lounge around in their back garden.
Sheffield’s Sniff finishes the show, in an equally lifeless and lethargic manner, with lines such as “in my mind, there’s too many dead cells / I’mma stick to being dead, ‘cos being dead sells”. He also name-drops long-time partner in crime Trellion, a fan favourite, who many were hoping would feature on the album after frequent collaborations with many of the cult’s members.
Following the album’s midnight release, dedicated C.O.T.D fans quickly took to social media to offer their stand-out tracks. It is no surprise that “Nicole” was frequently mentioned, with Lee Scott, Milkavelli, Black Josh, Bisk, King Grubb, Bill Shakes and Salar all featuring.
Lee Scott handles production on this one, sampling “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Nicole Willis and The Soul Investigators. The track begins with lyrics from the original’s chorus, faded out, “Got my breaking heart (no one, no one) No one’s gonna love you”, before Scott abruptly starts spitting.
The playful, palm-muting guitar of the original is slowed down, chopped and screwed, giving an almost unpredictable feel as the roster deliver their bars. Black Josh steals the show here with a naturally easy flow, which picks up in pace when the higher pitched strings of the sample come back in.
The track which stands out most on this album is “Coffee“, a Sam Zircon production which sees Bill Shakes, Lee Scott and Milkavelli trade verses, with Bisk sluggishly muttering the track’s chorus. The gentle, twinkling keys and subtle bass work well together, giving the song a reflective, nostalgic feel.
This track feels more reminiscent of Lee and Milk’s Cult Mountain approach than any other track on the album, with the tempo turned right down to match the emcees’ depressed delivery. Blackburn’s Bill Shakes tackles the beat in his usual, unique way, shouting out his lyrics like it requires some forceful effort.
Beats like this suit Scott’s flow best, allowing him to drag out his contradictory and self-depreciating remarks (“A good son slash scumbag / Throwing broken bottles at a punchbag / Eating me munch like someone’s trying to steel it”). He also teases at subject matter he’s addressed before (Lee Scott – Watch TV), namely his disdain for TV and the brain-dead audiences it entices (“Watching signed daytime TV at night time half-blind”).
The calm keys and gentle, re-emerging bassline really make this one feel dreamy, and Milkavelli seems to slow down the pace even more so, as he finishes the track with his verse. His lyricism is arguably a lot more basic than what fans are used to, however the delivery is something special, with his slow utterances giving the impression he is in a confusing daze, which matches the overall vibe of the track.
Reklews tackles production on four of the tracks, including “Bad Card“, a dark and haunting track with a looping melody you’d expect to hear in an eerie, gothic horror flick. The production gone into the album feels a lot more sophisticated and experimental than the raw beats typical of early C.O.T.D work, and UK hip-hop in general.
It demonstrates the versatility the Blah roster has to offer, both in lyricism and production, whilst supporting the view that Blah Records holds some of the most innovative and interesting artists the UK has to offer. Get Cult Of The Damned’s Part Deux: Brick Pelican Posse Crew Gang Syndicate on Bandcamp here, and stream it below.