When I had the opportunity to review the new record by UK Psych merchants The Cult of Dom Keller They Carried The Dead In A U.F.O the first three thoughts through my mind were ‘UK psych? Like Bristol legends The Heads!’ (No, turns out not at all) I get to experience some music from a genre I’m not familiar with, and ‘who in the hell is Dom Keller?’
Without digging too much, a few quick Google searches yielded nothing but the band themselves. Is Dom Keller a friend? A mentor? A lunatic down at the pub? Some sort of sonic shaman floating around the forest near their Nottingham home? I have no idea who or what he is, or what he’s done that would qualify a cult being built around him, but those questions will remain unanswered for now.
They Carried The Dead On A U.F.O is a record one could use as an example if another human being posed the question ‘what is heavy, psychedelic music, and what might it sound like experienced through a vortex of English industrial and post-punk??’ I spun the LP multiple times to really try to absorb the multiple layers of sound.
Run From The Gullskinna opens the record with swirling noise, before dropping into an almost gothic, new wave-y vibe, layered with synth. OK, here we go. This is going to be trippy. This song goes off into a flurry of sound, bringing the proceedings way down, before descending into a soup of sounds, before weaving back into the initial intro as all sorts of noises bombard the listeners senses. Again, I can’t help but think of English post-punk and industrial bands like Godflesh.
Lyssa jars the listener to attention with a pounding, industrial beat. Spooky, dare-I-say gothic-esque guitar plucks among the swirling noise. A dark, vibe permeates this track. This band rally excels at creating a mood. Cage The Masters features one of the few vocal lines discernible, through the distortion and layers of sound. Vocalist Neil Marsden proclaiming, ‘I die every night, but I’m born again’. If that’s the phrase The Cult Of Dom Keller wants featured most prominently, who I am to argue, as it sure works with their entire aesthetic.
The Cult of Dom Keller really put the ‘psych’ into ‘psychedelic’, adding on industrial, post-punk and gothic sounds…
She Turned Into A Serpent gets off to an ominous tone for sure, with a nasty crawl of noise and beats resulting in a creepy vibe. Wails and howls intertwine with all the noise, making for a fairly unsettling sonic experience. Marsden attempting to find his way through the cacophony of dark psychedelic swirls, speaks on topics, this reviewer was unable to discern. However, it all works, and I don’t need to know what he’s musing about.
Infernal Heads comes across slightly less brooding, giving the listener a bit of reprieve. The intro organ from Neil Marsden is a nice touch. Delgaudio letting us know through the psych ‘transmission is down’. To my ears, the most accessible song on the record to this point. Psychic Surgery almost feels like an actual procedure the way I experienced this track while Amazing Enemy begins with some nice, melodic synth twinkling from Delgaudio/Mardsen coupled with some soft vocal cooing, as the track builds. Is that electric guitar I hear? Yes, it is!
The Last King Of Hell is a nice closer to the record. The band finding a bit of swing, some slight groove in all the psych. Very nice build up, the guitar featuring more prominently in this song. A nice bass/drum groove from percussionist Al Burns anchors the song well. It’s followed by some pretty awesome guitar effects work, and some soaring, less-distorted vocals from Delgaudio, eerily bringing it all together, the band switching gears, as they embark on a sonic journey to some unknown, inevitable, cosmic ending. An epic album closer.
My time spent with They Carried the Dead on a U.F.O was best experienced with headphones. One can really hear all the layers, and textures they put into this record. Additionally, I would recommend a few listens to really absorb this. The Cult of Dom Keller really put the ‘psych’ into ‘psychedelic’, adding on industrial, post-punk and gothic sounds into their aesthetic, obviously approaching their music with conviction, and expanding this reviewer’s limited perception of the UK psych scene exponentially.
Definitely an interesting band and record, and I’d love to know once and for all who the hell Dom Keller is.
Scribed by: Martin Williams