‘Practical Applications of Theurgy’ is the passionate, emotional debut from Scottish one man metal outfit A Cunning Man; the vehicle of Ged Cartwright. Blending heavy, technical riffage with classical and folkish influence and highly articulate, poetic lyricism; it offers a unique sample of progressive metal. Songs are arranged with particular attention paid to dynamics and interplay of styles and sounds, fully realising its own style.
The EP opens with the soaring riffs of Honorius & the Choral Forecast. Chaotic time signatures are delivered with fury. Layers of sounds amalgamate to gradually reveal the projects vastly coloured sound palette until the outro jettisons the crunch in favour of stratospheric strings. Choral sounds enter the pandemonium of the harrowing Cyprian & the Ambergris Geist, a track which best showcases Cartwright’s talent for forward-thinking arrangement.
The track’s movement from one melody and time signature to the next are unpredictable and inexplicable but by no means to the track’s detriment. Saving the best for last, Juratus & the Sulphur Psalm is a celebratory, empowering track, injected with an exuberant tone which grows with the song’s range.
An interesting journey, A Cunning Man wears its experimental ambition on its sleeve. Cartwright showcases a far reaching, impressive vocal. The EP offers variety in instrumentation, even offering a spoken word interlude on its closer. Eager to be felt with as much conviction as it was played and as easily as it can be heard, ‘Practical Applications of Theurgy’ is a truly encapsulating listen.