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Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual

Black Mass Ritual
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 08 September 2017, 2:17 PM

United Kingdom’s Black Metal quintet FORMICARIUS formed in 2014. “Black Mass Ritual” is their debut album, containing eight tracks. The genre of Black Metal used to be very unidimensional. You could count on a very specific sound and production in the early days. Many of these bands still exist, but the genre has grown as of late, splintering into many wonderful factions and sporting a diversity that is un-matched in many genres of Metal today. Let’s get to the album here to see what we have.

“Lake of the Dead” opens with a brief six-note chord progression with a slow pace, before unleashing a fury of maddening vocals and blast beat percussion. I am reminded of the band CHILDREN OF BODOM here at times, especially from some symphonic elements in the background. A string-burying guitar solo furthers the point that this isn’t your father’s brand of Black Metal. “Overlord” is over seven minutes in length, opening with an eerie piano sequence that is shrouded in mystery…neither bright nor dark but a balance in between. Guitar and keys then storm in with the throaty harsh vocals, and symphonic elements abound. Though the song retains a core sound throughout, they vary the riffs at almost every turn along the way. “May the Rats Eat your Eyes” is a pleasant greeting, but sure makes a point. A bit shorter in length, the compositional structure highlights musicians with a sense of grace and grandiosity.

“Under Darkness” opens with a jovial riff and a looser sound, allowing the keys to carry a shining melody. Who said Black Metal could not be melodic at times? They play with key changes as if it was child’s work as well, giving a very cultured sound to the song. “Where the Gods go to Die” has a bit of a darker sound but still with a lot of complexity. The musicianship of the band is quite strong, and reflected highly in this track. “A Requiem for the Bloodborn” is chaotic and measured at the same time. Sometimes the instrumentation can come close to overwhelming you, showing that simplicity is not in their vocabulary. But at the same time, there are clear chord patterns and melodies that are easy to follow. It’s quite uncanny. “Master of the Past and Present” is the final song, clocking in at over eight minutes. The opening sequence is great…a solitary acoustic guitar, flute and a dancing bass guitar are married with refinement. From there the sonority increases, with shifting and creative passages that refuse to linger too long. The final few minutes are quite melodic and poignant.

This is an excellent outing for this fledgling UK outfit. The care given to the songwriting and the strong musicianship will be their key to future success for sure. They sound like they have been together as a band for a long time, and have a seasoned sense of synergy in their music which isn’t often heard at this level. This is fresh and modern Black Metal, with class and sophistication to go along with their punishing and pulverizing sound.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Lake of the Dead
2. Overlord
3. May the Rats Eat your Eyes
4. Under Darkness
5. Where the Gods go to Die
6. Abhorrent Feast of Minds
7. A Requiem for the Bloodborn
8. Master of Past and Present
Lord Saunders – Vocals, Guitar
Hægtesse – Vocals, Bass
Nazarkardeh – Guitar
Morath – Keys
Aelle – Battery
Record Label: Schwarzdorn Production


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