REVIEW: BAYSIDE – CULT

Cult

Reviewed by Mark Plummer

The build up to this album has been a tad unusual, and as a result, it comes with a lot of intrigue; this in turn creates the expectation that Cult will be a strong album. Perhaps this is a dangerous assumption to make, but when you have eleven consistently strong tracks and a kick-ass PR campaign, it’s worth the noise.

The massive drum opening of Big Cheese makes way for a gnarly guitar, dark and brooding, not even thirty seconds in and already there’s a sense of power of what’s to come; whilst the format is nothing revolutionary, the blistering solo followed by some subtle and nifty guitar work before the final chorus surely creates an opener to be proud of. The already previewed Time Has Come does hold certain amounts of surprise, showcasing a more major key slanted uplift over the aforementioned Big Cheese, yet this confidently highlights an affluent mix of old Bayside with that of what Cult is offering.

Indeed it continues this way as each track alternates, swinging like a pendulum between something gritty and dark, before giving the listener a more positive and lighter shift; the culmination of this would appear to be Pigsty, as it changes gear in the chorus before a charming solo followed by bold drum work on the toms and the odd bell hit. Here on in, the dynamics of Cult start to change, it’s like this release has been masterminded to slowly mature and grow on the mind. Transitive Property holds all the key ingredients of a massive rock ballad, whilst masquerading itself into the mainframe of the album; the chord changes are a little predictable due to this, but it holds its pros in the background music that is warm, inviting and ready to explode before a seemingly massive guitar solo.

Whilst in some ways, this is a pretty comfortable ride, Stuttering manages to stand out above the rest; the walking bass line is truly wonderful, whilst the organ in the pre-chorus carries on the plentiful surprise in what this track gives up for its listener. The unusual format that places a guitar solo after the first chorus is a great change of tact, it goes on to highlight just how much work the lead guitar is contributing through out not just this song, but the album on a whole.

As The Whitest Lie draws to a close, there’s a certain je ne sais qoui surrounding this album; Cult feels fresh, full of surprises, defiantly brilliant and manages to come across as seemingly fluid in its transition between those records that have come before it. But above all, it ends as strongly as it starts; put it on repeat and there’s no hesitation between tracks one and eleven, they flow effervescently from one to the other, molding a fantastically balanced release.

Bayside have not forgotten their roots, but at the same time have taken confident and bold steps forward, ultimately this is the release that it was built up to be and deserves nothing less than a round of applause.

4½ out of 5

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