RITUAL MASS – Abhorred in the Eyes of God (2020)REVIEW

In the grand tradition of the mid-to-late 80’s United States death metal impetus Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania trio Ritual Mass spent roughly three years tightening their resolve, honing in on a signature attack, and transcending semblance of their influences before setting their sights upon official release. You’ll often see me refer to “garage” death metal and rarely is it a commentary on the render of a recording but rather the subtle cues and precision details the death metal officiant will pick up on when observing a piece, or set of pieces, that have been practiced to Hell in development of real, serious ‘old school’ death metal groove. Ritual Mass sound as if they’ve spent their free time pounding out riffs in a garage (well, a rehearsal space) for ages working their way towards the low-slung, moshable head-grinders full of heretical intent that amount to ‘Abhorred in the Eyes of God’, their first EP. A brief and neatly presented ~12 minutes of blissfully ripping death metal music.

If you’ve ever picked up the early Master tapes where they’ve mixed in the non-triggered drum takes and imagined what those thrashing, punkish Axegrinder-esque chunks might sound like reborn by way of a more perfectionism-bound group (i.e. Tomb Mold) then ratcheted up to ridiculous body-in-the-trunk heaviness (i.e. Coffins) you’ll understand why Ritual Mass are an instant thumbs up from my perspective. They’re not a deathcrust band, but they could hang with ’em, they’re not a “caveman” thug merch-meme death metal band (but they could hang with ’em), and it seems the angle these guys are aiming for is a solid enough mix of simple groovin’ and easygoing pure death metal. That isn’t to say that their (Tithe-esque) first demo tape (‘Demo‘, 2017) was a chill experience, at all, but that ‘Abhorred in the Eyes of God’ focuses on the bigger hardcorish grooves less and leans into the types of guitar progressions and ‘contained’ songs that helped Death and Master stand out early on, without relying on verse-chorus-verse structure.

A core understanding of punk’s concise effectiveness in relation to early death metal standards worked back then and it works here as well, though the vocal patterns could be more inventive. Gorguts were in a similar mode back on ‘…And Then Comes Lividity’, sure they were probably slightly more technical even then but it wasn’t until they ramped up their vocal cadence from song-to-song that a broader appeal began to shine through. That’d be where I am with Ritual Mass, this sound (via Greg Wilkinson & Earhammer Studios) is big enough to do anything with, but these songs lack diction that insists the listener engages. Gimme a little more nut-kickin’ clank in the bass tone, too. No major gripes here — They’ve got some fine-ass riffs, plenty of groove, slick cover art (Keith Caves) and a fantastic sound. Perfect introduction to what Ritual Mass do and a huge step beyond the demo. High recommendation, absolutely give ’em 12 minutes to prove their shit.

High recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
ARTIST:Ritual Mass
TITLE:Abhorred in the Eyes of God
LABEL(S):Caligari Records
RELEASE DATE:June 19, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Caligari [Digital, Cassette] | 20 Buck Spin [LP] |Pyre Press [LP]
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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