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Ritual Clearing – Ritual Clearing

Ritual Clearing
Ritual Clearing
by Gary Hernandez at 10 May 2020, 8:58 AM

It’s amazing to see how far ranging and long lasting the impacts of SWBM have been. Hailing from Connecticut, USA, RITUAL CLEARING formed in 2019 and give credit to SWBM icons for shaping their style. They also acknowledge later influences such as Atmospheric Black Metal and Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. The result can be heard on their self-titled debut EP, “Ritual Clearing” which was released on April 24, 2020 through Eternal Death.

The EP consists of four tracks and comes in at the 27-minute mark. Lyrically, the band has stated in a Violent Demise interview that the songs “deal with anger and frustration towards people destroying each other, destroying this planet, and the indifference towards all of it that permeates.” Sonically, with a two-guitar assault, the purposely lo-fi rendering isn’t sufficient to mask the raw aggressiveness of this band which comes through like a weapon of mass bludgeoning.

The first track, “Hide,” rises with distorted feedback and foreboding tremolo. BF and BP then steadily build the tension until OM and RG break through with hammering riffs. DMs vocals, racking and wrecked, then come slashing in. There’s a satisfying break just past mid-point where the feedback returns while the rhythm section and a grinding riff churn in the background. Now this isn’t a frenetic unleashing of grayscape, rather there is a compelling though punishing melody being built. That melody, in turn, comes to a crescendo and the band moves on to the next movement. The track, as does every song on the EP, ends as it began — with distorted feedback.

Although the second track, “Necrophage,” is the shortest on the album, it is probably my favorite. While the title references an organism that feeds on dead or decaying flesh, there is nothing about this track that suggests stasis. “Void,” track three, is a slow-moving train of carnage . . . well, until about two minutes in when the train shifts gears (if trains even have gears) and the song ratchets up to the next level. The final track, “Mensis,” is a riff heavy assault. Unlike the previous tracks, the demarcation between movements is less dramatic, which creates a sense of consistency throughout the seven plus minutes.

It’s clear within the few minutes of “Ritual Clearing” that considerable craft as well as blood and gristle went into this album. Throughout there is an adherence to a dark and daunting theme and a devotion to execution. The production is on the low end but still somehow manages to have clear separation so that the bass, percussion, guitars, and vocals can be fully appreciated. Having just formed in 2019, it’s a bit early to speculate whether RITUAL CLEARNING will make a mark as significant as other Connecticut metal bands such as FATES WARNING or OBESSION . . . or if they even want to. Black Metal, after all is not about exposure, discounting the church burnings and murders that is. Either way, the S/T release by RITUAL CLEARING is an impressive offering.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 6


3 Star Rating

1. Hide
2. Necrophage
3. Void
4. Mensis  
BF – Bass
OM – Guitar
RG – Guitar
BP – Drums
DM – Vocals
Record Label: Eternal Death


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