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Posthum - The Black Northern Ritual

The Black Northern Ritual
by Erika Kuenstler at 01 November 2014, 8:35 PM

Norwegian Black Metallers POSTHUM are back with a new album just in time for their ten-year anniversary. Entitled “The Black Northern Ritual”, this release has a total of seven songs clocking in at a total of just over forty minutes, with much of it consisting of a mid-tempo icy Black Metal sound.

Launching straight into the album with no preamble, “Demon Black Skies” plunges the listener straight into the deep end. One thing that is immediately striking is the vocal technique adopted by Jon; whilst these vocals have a forced feel to them, they also sound tortured in a way, and at first I couldn’t quite decide whether they were amazing or terrible. However, after the initial surprise at this unusual style, the vocals become more and more pivotal to the music, until you can no longer imagine any other style fitting in so well. Also interesting is one particular riff in this melody that starts out dark and sinister but flawlessly flows into an almost uplifting tune before melting back into an icy and frostbitten section of purest Black. And this is indeed one thing that must be said for the album: POSTHUM have managed to come up with some very good riffs that capture a wide range of emotions, from futility to hate, and perhaps even to the briefest glimpses of ethereal promise. “To The Pits” is laced in melancholy and despair that plumb the very depths of all that is dark in this world, sinking on wings of the most velveteen black, taking your spirit on a journey through the void of the underworld. Things take a more militant and aggressive twist on the title track, “The Black Northern Ritual”, although this too is interwoven with darker and more melodic melodies that intertwine perfectly into the song, weaving a tapestry of searing fire and blizzard-like soundscapes that slice your soul like razors. The final track “North” is perhaps my favourite on the album. With a playtime of just under 11 minutes, this is by far the longest song, but this has allowed POSTHUM to play around with the melody somewhat, paving the way for some truly beautiful passages.

The instrumentation on this opus is well executed, and this combined with the frosty and desolate atmosphere contained in the music will have chills running down your spine. Each song, when looked at individually, is very good. However, one downside of “The Black Northern Ritual” as a whole, is that the song structures can be quite similar from one track to the next, which can lead to the album becoming somewhat long-winded. Even the few tempo changes that the album contains don’t last particularly long before the song returns to its usual mid-tempo beat (perhaps with the exception of “Vinter”).

Overall, “The Black Northern Ritual” is perhaps not the most ground-breaking or innovative Black Metal to date, but still is a decent album, albeit with some flaws, and whether or not you like this album greatly depends on how accepting you are of the vocal style used here. Nevertheless, POSTHUM definitely have potential, and a little bit of variation would take them far. However, the album does grow on you over time, so if you don’t like it straight away, give it another shot.

3 Star Rating

1. Demon Black Skies
2. Condemned
3. To the Pits
4. The Black Northern Ritual
5. Vinter
6. A Disappearing Sun
7. North
Morten - Drums
Mats - Guitars
Jon - Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Indie Recordings


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