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Ceremony – Retribution (Reissue)

Retribution (Reissue)
by Joseph Hausmann at 12 February 2020, 8:34 AM

CEREMONY has returned. Formed in 1989 in the Netherlands, this Blackened Death Metal group follows the traditional lines of Death metal while infusing Black metal elements into their music. "Retribution" is the band’s second full-length album since their formation. The band has released a couple of EPs between the two albums. With "Retribution", it is fair to say that CEREMONY is getting back to their music after a long hiatus. The unique aspect of this group is that they do not use a bass player and solely rely on the guitar work to give the band a heavy sound.

"Retribution" is the title track of the album and it is downright creepy. The beginning of the track has what sounds like tortured souls screaming in pain. Then they layer a young girl’s voice over the top giving the song a creepy, sinister aura. It truly makes you feel the fear and pain that they are trying to bring across with the blending of those sounds. The vocal work in this track are traditional Black Metal vocal work adding to that sinister aura. "Influential" adds a little groove to the Death/Black Metal stylings. This makes the track unique in itself, as this is not normally used in these styles. The guitar work in this song is solid and blends well with the vocals. "In A Dark Time" shows us the Death Metal chops of CEREMONY. The vocals change ranges from mids to lows as the guitar work provides us with a foundational melody for the track. The riffs in this song are fast paced but on the monotonous side and don’t really change often making them predictable. This track has strong vocal work and the drum work is also pretty decent.

"Erilaz" is the heaviest song on the album. Without a bass line, the majority of the album is lacking in weight. With this track however, they made up for that missing link by using the deeper chords and registers of the guitars. This is the gem of the album as they employ abrupt changes in riffs giving the song a chaotic feel while still reigning that chaos just enough. "Divinitory Rites" begins with a thunderstorm soundscape that is blended with ominous guitar riffs. In this track they build up the song by introducing each layer and mixing them together. This track is slower than the rest of the album until midway where it abruptly picks up the tempo. "Imperfect Perfection" brings us back to more of the Death metal style. The drum work in this track is commendable and really provides a driving force for the song. The vocals are powerful giving weight to this track.

All in all, I was pretty underwhelmed by this album. The guitar work shows promise at points but the repetitiveness of some of the riffs draw away from that. While I respect the raw and bare sound that they are using in this album, it really does need a heavy bass line to set a foundation for the album and to give it that extra weight that this album is missing. I do like the fact that they stay traditional in their sound and I wouldn’t expect anything less of a band that has been around for thirty years. There will be fans that are drawn to that traditional style and I don’t think that this is the last time we hear from CEREMONY and I hope they keep pushing on through the years.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

1. Retribution
2. Influential
3. In A Dark Time
4. Erilaz
5. Divinitory Rites
6. Imperfect Perfection
7. Mystery Of Mysteries
8. Tortured Souls
Micah Verboom – Vocals
Peter Verhoef – Guitar
Johan Van De Sluijs – Guitar
Bas Dubbleman – Drums
Record Label: Vic Records


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Edited 20 September 2020

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