RITUAL DEATH – Ritual Death (2022)REVIEW

The lizard brain in translation of primordial death’s arcane constancy. — Eroded by the ennui dripping from every waking moment of life and empowered by heretical revelation found only in the most bleak circles Trondheim, Norway-borne black metal quartet Ritual Death answer the call of pointedly fatal realism with barbaric reflex on this graven debut full-length. The antithesis of the mortification of the flesh, ‘Ritual Death‘ springs forth in desanctification in order to return feeling to the sinful nature of mankind by way of absolute possession. Uncalculated in their aggression yet precise in conveyance of haunted mayhemic mindset these well-regarded spectres reveal their Thanatotic mystery at last, a cult of the infinite death-drive.

Ritual Death officially formed around 2016 between musicians who’d most all featured in Dark Sonority/Kaosritual but conjured a different form of death worship on their debut self-titled 7″ (‘Ritual Death‘, 2016). Their sound hasn’t faltered from this original vision since, bearing a bestial mark but clearly stating their stance as a worshippers of the dark, servants under the scythe and an ‘old school’ black metal band per the earliest second wave of brutality which I’d liken to the first Gorgoroth demo and certain Beherit releases. Splits with well-renowned bands (13th Moon, Aosoth) followed and the infamy of the Trondheim area cult spread louder in the interim. The line-up eventually included Lord Nathas (Funeral Harvest, Nathr) on bass somewhere nearby their self-titled 10″ (‘Ritual Death‘, 2018) a hexed and droning embodiment with a violent drum presence which left the recording with a surreal atmosphere between live render and otherworldly space. Overall the original 7″ is the best precedence for what ‘Ritual Death‘ presents today, shorter bursts of inspiration pocked with ominous keyboards, raw guitar aggression, and the type of maniacal vocal performances we can expect from anything Wraath is involved in.

That is to say that fans of One Tail, One Head and the sporting violence of recent Beyond Man and Darvaza records will immediately appreciate the scalding hurl of ‘Ritual Death‘, at once a more primevally focused accost and a sublimely unsteady flux of emergent moments and minimally crafted ancient black metal exaggerations pushing the ear toward the edge throughout its increasingly hallucinatory half hour scrape. “Ancient Devil Worship” cues the well-indoctrinate fan that they’re picking up their punishing, cacophonic 7″ era energy and dragging it towards a desecrated cathedral pulpit, a few sinister guitar progressions atop building slow-blasted aggravation with organs humming in to catch the middle peak of the piece. For my taste “Vermin” is the standout scourge of the full listen to start not only for its scraping noise guitar hammer but the droning quality of all systems in action, a volley to push the listener into the memorable choruses and possessed lunacy of “Lunae”. Side A has just about blazed past already as “Black Metal Terror” briefly catches the ear with a sound byte from Red Dragon (2002) and not for a lack of detail so much as the insistent push of Ritual Death‘s rhythms. The sensation of listening is akin to being dragged toward the abyss, anticipating a vision of whatever lies in wait growling beneath the floorboards. The most key moments found on the first half of ‘Ritual Death‘ reveal themselves almost as a quick hardcore punk record might, succinct ideas cut down to pure impact which lend well to repeat listens yet the band do eventually lean into their hypnotic side.

“Salome’s Dance” is most related to the type of droning, heavier riffing pieces Ritual Death had been writing on their 10″ record though they’ve given the dynamic some extra push to avoid dragging down the pace of the full listen as Side B focuses on various dynamics of raw, sometimes unpredictable rhythmic play per the guitar work (see: “The Pale King”) which still maintains the viable sensation of an undisturbed live performance. My favorite song on the full listen crops up nearby with “Darkness of Death”, a recollection of the muscle memory of thrashing death metal reflected in earliest Scandinavian black metal sophistry, or, a hit of early black/death metal with riffs that I’d greatly appreciated for the menace they’d added to Side B. The efficacy of ‘Ritual Death‘ circa 2022 is potency, black metal efficacy whittled down to only the most transfixing moments the band could manage and this’d, again, made repeat listens supremely effective.

Much as I could spin more language around it the gist of it is that listening to Ritual Death taps into both physical revulsion and mental revolt, the human subconscious awakening into bestial inhumane black metal mindset by nature. ‘Ritual Death‘ successfully sets the body into motion, severs the troublesome silver cord of the listener and plunges the ear into death’s endarkenment. Or, if you still feel like that is too colorful a treatment, we can at least agree this is a thrillingly aggressive and esoteric black metal record in the ancient tradition which keeps it simple (but not naïve) with plenty of riffs, maniac sermon, and esoteric use of keyboards. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (84/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Ritual Death
LABEL(S):Shadow Records
RELEASE DATE:December 5th, 2022

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