Ex-Cult’s new album Negative Growth is out tomorrow and if you listen closely, you can hear its heavy riffs coming for you. Recorded and produced by Ty Segall, Negative Growth is, according to frontman Chris Shaw, “dedicated to fear and deception.” The album has no problem creating an atmosphere of fear via its array of punishingly melodic tunes that come alive with all the power of a nightmare.
“Mister Investigator” is an explosion of an opener that builds a line of tension that never truly disappears on the record. There is a silvery sheen to the distortion and vocals on the album that gives everything an inhuman touch like echoes of something monstrous. “Government Birdcage” is Negative Growth at its most anxiety inducing, a thrilling and panic filled ride through the darkness.
There is something operatic about Negative Growth and it seems to go beyond mere theme. Is there a narrative between the events of “Dogs Roll In” and “Panic in the Park”? I think it’s best to leave that to the individual listener or band to decide, but to me Negative Growth documents the terror of a dystopian present in almost cinematic fashion. The twisted, steely threads of a plot are there among the metallic noises that glint and shake throughout the edges of each song as the album lures the listener deeper into the “Nightmare Zone”. The final track, “New Face On”, is the grand culmination to the album’s metallic macabre as Negative Growth draws to a close with a visceral, frightfully evocative fervor.