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Rituals of the Dead Hand - Blood Oath Award winner

Rituals of the Dead Hand
Blood Oath
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 03 December 2018, 6:29 AM

RITUALS OF THE DEAD HAND is a Belgium Black/Doom Metal.  I was pretty excited to hear this release because, well, Blackened Doom Metal isn’t a subgenre I come across very often.  I definitely wasn’t disappointed because it contains elements from both genres without being too far trapped in either style. The guitars certainly have the acid drenched tone of Black Metal but it is played at the pace of some extremely darkened Doom.  This more rumbling approach to the Black Metal really paid off because the note that make up the riffs can be heard so much better when they aren’t played at 1,000 MPH.  The journey the music takes you across on these five tracks is a desolate one indeed but also one filled with some decent riffs and music accomplishment.

The first track, “Bonderkuil,” begins with some feedback and drumming before a growl pierces the fog and the riffs come rolling in. The guitars have a throbbing buzz underneath the Doom groove, creating a sound that is both distorted and yet clear, a sort of rolling darkness that encompasses everything around it. “Sworn,”  takes a bit of a different approach.  The riffs are still obviously there but this time the vocals and the drumming propels the song.  Too many Black Metal bands focus on having their drummer play as fast as possible; it might work but you know what works even better?  Having a guy like Isangrim on drums, someone who appreciates actually playing real drum riffs and patterns, knowing when to hammer and went to hold back a bit.  Lykaois' vocals are definitely of a Blackened/Death origin, and his demonic growls ride effortlessly along side the riffs.

There is a brief respite from the gloom in the way of the minute or so long track “The Gathering,” a track that is ambient noises and what I assume is a howling wind.  It leads in perfectly with the next track, “They Rode By Night." This track leaves some of the Doom behind for a faster speed, both in the riffs and drumming.  It still features the same tight focuses the band has displayed thus far and it certainly matches the atmosphere.  It has a rather creepy section around the six minute mark that conjured all sorts of things I don’t want to talk about.  The relentless double bass and heavy as a moving glacier riffs that come afterwards keeps the vibe going but with a triple dose of Doom, as if it was making up for being absent earlier.   The haunting Black Metal returns to finish out the song, as abrasive as anything I’ve heard this year.

The final track, and the longest at over eleven minutes, is “The Scourge.”  There is a lot to like about this song: the simple but effective use of keys, the evil whispering, the way the riffs and double bass compliment each other, and the crescendo of an ending.   They do a lot in this song and it held my attention for the full eleven minutes and it honestly didn’t even feel that long. Highly impressive debut album and if you like Black Metal that steps outside the box and/or Doom, then this album needs to be heard by you right now.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Bonderkuil
2. Sworn
3. The Gathering
4. They Rode By Night
5. The Scourge
Lineup:
Isangrim – Drums, Keyboards
Lykaios – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Record Label: Dunkelheit Produktionen
     


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