Paradiso is on Fire by The Cult of Dom Keller

Release date: January 20, 2017
Label: Eggs in Aspic

Paradiso Is On Fire is the third release from Newcastle-based label Eggs in Aspic and the sect’s first live album. It was recorded during The Cult of Dom Keller’s tour of Belgium and the Netherlands in November 2016 and features ten solidly delivered, gloomy, gothic rock songs.

I tried to listen to as much Dom Keller as I could before writing this review to inform the difference between their album and live sound and whilst realistically, I don’t think I listened to them nearly enough, I do feel as though, I’m writing this as though, I’ve seen them on a bill with another band I love, listened to the albums as much as possible and gotten myself excited for the show.

What I love about this collection is that it feels like being at a gig without the shitty bootlegged sound you might expect from a live album by a band that doesn’t have shit loads of money to throw at it. It has this intangible quality of being in a venue; as a listener you can feel the different environments that breathe life into the release; you can feel the different placements and positioning of the microphones as you would hear the different sounds walking into the gig from the bar as ‘Behind All Evil is a Black Hole’ begins to a small applause. It’s nice that it’s a live album that isn’t some huge stadium rock affair with thousands of people chanting along; it feels like an intimate, almost personal gig. And this effect is amplified and somewhat bewildering in headphones. Whilst it is cool to hear certain vocal hooks earlier in the set for example, “you are not my god” and “see them crawl”, part of what makes it like a gig is that it becomes almost disorientating to focus on one element separately and everything seems to be compact hurling towards the listener like the collection of molecules that form a bullet.

Of course, tracks like ‘Dead Seas’ also do a good job of showcasing the finer points of the band and creating more of an engrossing sense of space through slow burning guitar work and bold centre-stage crooned vocals. The song takes on a horrific new meaning in a time where on a daily basis refugees of all ages are risking their lives crossing the sea to try and survive.

As with previous tracks the seamless flow from one track to another is once again, delightfully fluid segueing into ‘Shambhala is on Fire’ effortlessly. The track’s dual vocals immediately create an abrasive sense of disorientation against the violent instrumental, it’s the kind of chaos you want at a gig.

It is a cool that a couple of times, we hear introductions from the band but they don’t allow it to detract from the performance, brief chimes like quickly noting “next one’s an old one” to the audience before playing ‘Eyes’ explaining the sonic difference to other tracks to maintain the flow of the evening and contextualising it without saying more than five words. I love the washed-out soloing on this track, it has this weird shoegaze-twinged psychobilly feel to it, it’s brilliant.

‘Nothing Left To Stay For’ is slightly odd in the sense that the electronic element of the band up to this point in the set lies more or less dormant in the background but here it dominates the setting painting an ominous mysteriousness onto the evening in a moment’s notice. At times it feels like a lighter post-punk Rammstien track. It’s interesting, how the band chose to sandwich ‘Eyes’ between two newer tracks, it shows a lot of the development in the band but also the consistency at the same time. Continuing this almost cinematic excursion, in ‘Astrum Argentum’, the band showcases this weird blend of drama and duty that reminds me of a later Final Fantasy track, I think a bold visual element to the band’s shows would work really well, given the strangely operatic nature of their sound; it’s weird, it’s like the band started off as this all-singing, all-dancing, happy-go-lucky musical and then something gripped them and compressed them until it was all suffocated out of them. In any case, they know how to imbue their performance with atmosphere and presence.

The last two tracks on the album, ‘Swamp Heron’ and ‘Worlds’, are seemingly an encore. Although, I feel like ‘Worlds’ as an encore is extremely generous as near on ten minutes of excellently brooding, pulsating noise. It’s like being on one big happy adventure to the heart of your computer’s processor and we’re all tiny, microscopic people just off Tronning it to the cerebral centre of our devices and having a blast.

The Cult of Dom Keller seem to be very good live, follow the links at the top of the page to experience it behind a screen alone and disassociated, then actually go and watch them in person and add new dimensions to the sounds.

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