CARDINALS FOLLY / PURIFICATION – Possessed in the Ritual Grove (2022)REVIEW

Request thy doom and, for your sake, may it arrive without warning in horrifying spectacle. You’d be hard-pressed to source a finer pairing of nowadays not-so traditional, but still traditional, weirding doom metal acts from the forever underground than Helsinki-borne trio of occult-enjoyers Cardinals Folly and Portland arisen witchfinder-finders Purification yet we find ’em at different stages of life and inhabiting entirely different realms of their own drooling-black magick herein. ‘Possessed in the Ritual Grove‘ nonetheless sends us tentative invitation to said marriage in the city of the dead by way of about forty minutes of slow n’ creepily waltzing riffcraft, an invitation I’m not prone to ignore based on past glowing, groveling appreciation of each.

Cardinals Folly are probably the best, most consistent, least pretentious and still active doom metal band out of Finland these days and that isn’t a short list by any measure. They can write a catchy-assed song, have a performative streak when the narrative strikes the right mood and you couldn’t find a ‘miss’ no matter where you drop a pin into their discography. They’d really hit a certain stride between their two latest full-lengths ‘Deranged Pagan Sons‘ (2017) and ‘Defying the Righteous Way‘ (2020) and their three songs on this split more-or-less pull from that same well of inspiration, reinforcing the well-established ideal they’ve honed since the mid-2000’s. “Prince Prospero” is my preference of the three as much of a leader “Law and Enlightenment” would be on a full-length the third piece of the lot has the hooks, the riffs, and the ranting nature of the band which I tend to like best when it shows up. The deeper in the cups of their own brew they are the more potent the piece as far as I’m concerned.

Purification are comparably still bursting with the possibilities unlocked beyond their celebrated 2019 debut ‘Destruction of the Wicked‘, which if you’ve gotten the original vinyl includes a small (uncredited, I think) zine with an interview I’d done when they were still a duo. Evolving from stripped down punkish NWOBHM-era doom/heavy metal inspired crunch to elaborate psychedelic doom whorls they’ve become a bit of an esoteric epic generator in the space of four total full-lengths, released once every six months since the first. They’ve not stopped experimenting with texture and mood for a moment and in a way it begins to make sense that Troll split-up now that those sorts of elaborate multi-part pieces now shape their current sound. This evolution has been incredible to witness though I’d say they’d struck something most effective with the sorrow attuned malevolence of ‘The Exterminating Angel‘ (2021) where the instrumental dirges are best in step with the vocalists incredible narrative ability, a man of a thousand twisted faces. These four songs seem to come from sessions nearby that album, during or after, as the style is similar with the mix being slightly more raw in terms of singed and smoking guitar tones and use of vocal effects which also carry over from ‘Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever‘ (2020). The skin-melting epoch of “The Crowning Mercy” is my preference here, the electric wailing well that pools at the end and segues into the slow-rocking stomp of “Six Horn Cult of the Sword” is the point of magick for my own taste.

Wouldn’t change a thing with either band, they’re each exemplar as to what the old ways can do to arm new minds with considerable weaponry. ‘Possessed in the Ritual Grove‘ arrives based and boiling over with the right stuff, it comes without compare. Though I think each band has higher tier songcraft on their respective recent albums these songs give us a clear window to the pain each bring, and should offer either righteous introduction or steadying reinforcement for their reign. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Possessed in the Ritual Grove
LABEL(S):Rafchild Records
RELEASE DATE:March 4th, 2022

Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.