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Ritual Dictates - No Great Loss

Ritual Dictates
No Great Loss
by Matt Bozenda at 05 October 2022, 9:51 PM

Any attempt at the blending of genres must be done with great care, much like a chef in their kitchen. Creating recipes anew does require some trial and error, but generally speaking, taste tests will be done before the new dish is served to anyone else. Musicians don’t necessarily have that luxury, as many can’t find fault in their own creations, so we the listening public are left to take the challenge ourselves.

Finding ingredients to complement instead of compete is the key to any mixture, and when it comes to music, issues in genre mixing tend to come down to differences of instrumentation. Such is the Achilles’ heel of “No Great Loss”, the second album by Vancouver duo RITUAL DICTATES. An offshoot of sorts from Grind sergeants 3 INCHES OF BLOOD, what the listener gets on this album pivots not only from the sound of their previous band, but also from their first album, 2020’s “Give In To Despair”.

The components which go into this cacophonous concoction come widely sourced. Goth is the first flavor it seems, thrown in with a little bit of Prog and a smaller bit of Atmospheric, with a Deathcore kicker in parts. You get all of that and maybe a bit more right on track one, “Burn The Widow”. The choice in vocal styles and lyrics is one for debate, but to the band’s credit, they do work in sync with the music.

And that’s pretty much the tale of this tape. A deepening melancholia surrounds the music as it increasingly embraces the Goth elements, but it mostly stays on course from beginning to end. One can’t help, however, but to be irked by the feeling, particularly given by “Goth And Exhausted”, that this is all just a big put-on. The album’s longest, “Autumn Song”, starts like it will do something different, then it just continues from before, but for a lot longer. The closer, “Succumbing To The Ravages Of Age”, seems like it could be good, an otherwise haunting and deeply layered song, but it’s done in by silly WEIRD AL lyrics, not to mention the lack of payoff for the outro.

Is it trying to be a joke? Or at least, not to be taken very seriously? If so, mission accomplished; people looking for the next off-the-wall Metal outfit will absolutely fall in love with RITUAL DICTATES, because this music defies convention in many different ways. But, most rebellions that don’t have a Jedi or two tend not to alter the landscape in any drastic fashion, and “No Great Loss” is certainly not one with the Force.

It’s not for a lack of trying, because it’s clear these guys know what they’re doing. The second half features guest vocals from fellow Canadian BRITTNEY SLAYES of Power group UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, whose voice improves the tracks to some degree. But, to return to the kitchen metaphor, it’s like having renowned Michelin chefs making gas station food. They could be doing better, they are simply choosing not to.

But hey, that’s the sort of subversiveness that made Heavy Metal so appealing in the first place. Love it or hate it, listen to it once or stream it a thousand times, “No Great Loss” is thirty-seven minutes of whatever the hell you need it to be, be it punching bag or shoulder to cry on. The only real problem is that RITUAL DICTATES is so different, you’ve probably already heard them before.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Burn The Widow
2. My Solitude
3. Goth And Exhausted
4. Aqua Tofana
5. Autumn Song
6. Succumbing To The Ravages Of Age
Lineup:
Ash Pearson - drums
Justin Hagberg - vocals, guitars
Record Label: Artoffact Records
     


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