You'll know quickly if you like Cardinals Folly because Cardinals Folly has a hell of a litmus test in the form of metal lifer Mikko Kääriäinen's vocals. The guy sounds like Fenriz fresh off of a wisdom tooth extraction. Understandably, this is a hurdle if you prefer a golden throat. But Mikko's caterwauling isn't without its quirky charms. He unselfconsciously goes for it. It's punk and authentic as the expletive of your choosing. It's also a refreshingly archaic approach, proudly ignoring the modern impulse to ask a Coverdale clone to Dropbox a Pro Tools croon. However, the real strength of Mikko's voice is its lack of strength. When Mikko gets emotional, it feels legit, because why would this guy be acting? How could this guy be acting? Can he even control that thing? Besides, Mikko's enormous bass tone is strong enough for the both of them.

Cardinals Folly deal in the doom of their fellow Finns Reverend Bizarre. They're equally shambolic and peculiar, following their own path while penning love notes to traditional forms. Their sophomore release, Our Cult Continues!, has more gears than slow and low, similar to the way Cathedral countered the loud with the quiet, the slow with the fast, and the aggressive with the melodic. It has a taste for the strange, as well. The lyrics are Weird Tales fantastic. And Cardinals Folly aren't afraid to leave their tracks covered in dust.

Case in point, "Sighisoaran" contains bygone bell tolls. They don't play a crucial thematic role and the ringing isn't included as a wink or a meditation on what "Black Sabbath" means in the 21st century. The bells are there because Cardinals Folly said, "Fuck it, this song needs bells." The bass volume is maxed out for the same reason, sounding like someone plucking a giant's hamstring. New-ish members Juho Kilpelä (guitar) and Joni Takkunen (drums) bash their instruments as if the album's exclamation point is always on their mind. You get the sense the lone check and balance during recording was whether the progressions sounded cool to the players.

In the end, "Sighisoaran" doesn't adhere to a template beyond "fuck it." Trends? Fuck trends. Cleaned-up retro? Fuck that, too. Bless Cardinals Folly for not pandering.

"Sighisoaran" appears on Cardinals Folly's Our Cult Continues! The album will be released August 19 by Shadow Kingdom Records. You can stream two more tracks here.

— Ian Chainey


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