Buy Album: https://www.pavementmusic.com/product/cretus-dux-mea-lux-cd-pre-order/
Band Website: http://www.followcretus.com/
1. Price of Immortality
2. Darkness Bites
3. What I Will
4. The Leader
5. Little Children
With the likes of Ghost, Gwar, Lordi, Slipknot and even punk heroes Pussy Riot all donning various masks and disguises, is there room for another band to shove their way into this “we’re all mysterious and don’t show our faces!” group? It’s all very well to have a schtick but surely the talent has to be there in order to push the band on to success, right?
Step forward Cretus, a band of merry men (women?) who emerged fully formed from the dankness of New Orleans just least year, supporting NOLA legends Down in their home town (Pepper Keenan is said to be a huge fan). The band are taking their ‘staying in character’ thing very seriously: they rarely do interviews, perform onstage in black cloaks and the aforementioned masks, and refuse to reveal their names or even how the band came into existence. Even their website is deliberately anonymous, preferring instead to focus on the band’s music and a list of resources one can peruse to truly grasp the band’s message – a list with a distinctly philosophical and esoteric bent containing such tomes as ‘Time Dilation – Albert Einstein and Relativity’ and ‘Meditations’ by Descartes. This is clearly a band who wish to enlighten their listeners rather than merely entertain them: they call themselves an “extended outreach program” and their debut EP’s name Dux Mea Lux translates to ‘my guiding light’.
Said debut, released by Pavement Records (who they signed to in May) contains five tracks. Up first is ‘Price of Immortality’ which opens with a creepy yet aggressive piano refrain before launching into a superbly heavy riff that is a bit thrashy, a bit NWOBHM-y and even a bit stoner-y. It sounds like a mish mash on paper but it’s beautifully put together and somehow works, never jarring. The vocals are a great match to the music, combining the rasp of Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and the boom of The Damned’s Dave Vanian. It’s certainly a most beguiling introduction.
Track two, ‘Darkness Rises’, begins with an enticingly brooding throb before speeding up around the one minute mark to a racing beat, and then switching between throughout. It has an eerie and a yes, dark feel that sends shivers down one’s spine.
That shivery vibe carries over into song three, ‘What I Will’; with it’s powerful riff and kick ass drums, it has an almost horror punk feel, albeit heavier and with bitingly intelligent sociopolitical lyrics. Imagine Mastodon crossed with the Misfits…
Track four and EP highlight ‘The Leader’ is next, with a gloriously ripping riff and a repeat of that punk rock feel. The simplest song on the EP, it’s raucous, fiery and actually fun – something quite unexpected from such a serious and esoteric band.
Now, where’s the ballad…ah! There it is, closing out the EP and clocking in at a weighty seven minutes, almost twice the length of any of the other four songs. ‘Little Children’, with its Scorpions-esque ‘classic metal ballad’ vibe and almost (dare we say it) hopeful lyrics (“Don’t be afraid…on the new plane, paradise awaits”) initially seems like a fairly standard ballad. But then it does something rather surprising: not one, but two tempo changes, upping the pace twice. The lyrics switch to the perspective of the titular children, the song takes on a chugging, Metallica feel, then the fastest pace injects a real gallop to the track…it’s an intriguingly structured song and definitely a bold one.
In Dux Mea Lux, Cretus have created a group of songs packed with musical influences, heavy, ballsy riffs and stinging, intelligent lyrics, all with the swagger and slither of New Orleans through them. And while the lyrics themselves may be a tiny bit cliched here and there, the musicianship and songwriting indisputably overshadows that tiny flaw. It seems there’s definitely room for another mysterious masked band in the world of heavy music…move up, everyone!