The Cult Of Dom Keller – The Second Bardo (2014)

Let’s talk 90s footballers. Proper ones, like Shaka Hislop. If you had to compare the debut self titled album by The Cult Of Dom Keller to a 90s footballer it could well be a young Rory Delap, maybe not the first name on the team sheet but a useful utility player who can play in midfield or defence, chip in with a few goals and has a long throw. This is a roundabout way of saying The Cult Of Dom Keller was a solid but unspectacular album (no offence if you’re reading Rory, as Alan Brazil might say).

So it was with some interest that I listened to the follow-up, The Second Bardo. let’s cut to the chase, The Cult Of Dom Keller have improved dramatically and taken a big step up. Whereas the debut had a killer track in “Worlds” the rest of the album was fairly middling, it was all decent but on such a huge playing field as shoegaze inspired psych it struggled to make its presence felt. The quality on The Second Bardo is much better from start to finish, from songwriting to production this has a stamp of quality the first lacked. There is a new-found assurance and confidence.

The sound is harsher and thicker, with it being tempting to speculate if they were influenced by The Janitors (Stuart Pearce: hard as nails) who they toured with last year.There are now hints of Closer era Joy Division with Just For A Day era Slowdive. The band appears to now how to craft sound better, knowing how to use noise and pace in a cannier, shrewder way. The drums are very impressive here, in charge with a steady hand. The bass has been brought to the forefront to everyone’s advantage.

Right from the opening salvo of ‘Plague Of All’ The Cult Of Dom Keller have become a force to be reckoned with, more focused, more controlled and with lyrics and vocals that hit harder. ‘The Snake Keeps Changing’ overplay’s it’s hand at over 7 minutes with a Black Angels oily groove but that’s not a bad way of spending 7 minutes. ‘Dead Seas’ shimmers like a sand storm. ‘Into The Sky Volcano – Beyond Burning Skies’ is thicker than an aardvark milkshake. ‘Godshaker’ throbs like a Dalek’s migraine. ‘Ghost Bones’ has a caveman shuffle. Title track ‘The Second Bardo’ offers a motorik rave up. ‘Killed In My Sleep’ brings the album to a slow, fuzzy conclusion.

So which 90s / turn of the millennium footballer have The Cult Of Dom Keller become? Maybe Kevin Philips from his Sunderland days, who arrived from nowhere and scored 30 goals in one season. The Cult Of Dom Keller have made the grade and then some, where they go from here shall be very interesting…

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