Cullooden – Silent Scream
Cullooden – Silent Scream (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
New melodic prog from Sweden, is it? I don’t see how this can possibly go wrong, given the monstrously talented reputation of this (arguably classified) subgenre in Europe over the past couple of years. Cullooden is a little bit of an enigma, seeming to only have really poked its head above the water recently with the release of Silent Scream. Occasionally, however, it’s nice to go into an album blind, especially when it turns out this enjoyable.
Silent Scream contains the lighter sort of melodic prog reminiscent of bands like Threshold, Teodor Tuff, and maybe Circus Maximus at its least complex and most compact. I describe the band this way because of several factors. First of all, there’s not much keyboard here beyond a few touches of support, and guitar fills most of the instrumental arena. Secondly, almost every song on the album is a hefty melodic vocal feature, and the focus upon hooky choruses is quite similar to the bands above. At times, Cullooden almost eclipses them for just a minute – but (and there’s always a “but”) there always seems to be a little drawback that gets on my nerves.
Exhibit A: the third track, “Endless Tears” boasts gliding, heartfelt pre-chorus and chorus melodies that stick with me long after I’ve heard the song. Unfortunately, immediately following the cessation of the first such chorus, I have to listen to none other than George W. Bush Jr. for a few dragging seconds. I never like clips of speaking in my music much, but talk about pure and unmitigated self-sabotage.
My third and final analysis of the band’s “light” prog sound comes from the actual instrumentation. There’s no wanking, no blatant time signature faffery, and very little in the way of instrumental showiness altogether. Mark my words, this is hardly a problem – Cullooden is focused, on target, and keeps the center of attention directly where it’s most merited. “Our Only Desire” is a superb example of light whirls of complexity surrounding and tossing a great chorus in just the right way to elevate it above the rest of the music.
Other remarkable features of the album include a few harsher screams to punctuate the music (perhaps most noticeable in opener “Heaven Feels So Hollow”), some very good solo sections (generally brief, but always well-worth hearing, and never just filling space), and a surprising level of accessibility while remaining very much a metal album. It is in this last way that I think the band most resembles Teodor Tuff or Seventh Wonder, but without being nearly so strange, intellectual, or experimental in lyrical subject matter. Actually, some of the lyricism here is kind of clumsy, but we like to give random Scandinavian bands a bit of a break on that point.
Silent Scream is a strong debut, and a great early showing from the fold of melodic prog for early 2014. I recommend Cullooden to anyone who enjoys the bands listed above, and anyone in search for easy, enjoyable progressive or heavy metal with a modern sound. I’d give Cullooden good odds on landing a good record deal in time for round number two – if it hasn’t happened already.
3.75 // 5