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Neldöreth has never been one of the most well received Black Metal acts from North America, let alone the state of Pennsylvania, but that hasn’t really stopped the production of new material. Bloodcurse, the founder of the group, turned things around recently when Darrell Creel (former Godless Rising) joined on to handle the instruments and record the Death Metal fueled EP Invert Christ. With a stronger reception being given to this shift in sound, it’s really surprising to find the group reverting back to its Black Metal roots. To showcase this change, the group has issued a twelve-minute plus single titled Ritual Suicide. Having heard the band’s earlier material, warning signs immediately went up, fearing this to be a potentially pretentious recording.
Once more, Neldöreth offer listeners a decent raw kick to the Black Metal audio quality of this recording. The drums stand out the most thanks to the the thick, louder click of the bass kicks and cymbals. The snares have a bit of tight wooden sound to them, which causes many to come through quite well, even if only one or two are being hit in a good amount of time thanks to the often slower nature of the music. The guitars have varied distortions, such as a cleaner approach in some of the bridges, and a generally sharper traditional Black Metal tone that finds itself a bit further in the background, as well as in a slighter lower tone, and not quite as crisp as the drums are. The bass is pretty obvious in the mix as well, but largely becomes support to the guitars more than anything, offering a decent kick to the final product. Vocally, Bloodcurse has gone from the mid-range guttural style to the more common Black Metal rasp. There is a nice echo effect utilized to give it a little extra edge, as well as a good amount of range in the performance that sticks within a mid-range level, but can find itself going a little deeper at key times, and never really treading into the higher pitches that often had many looking down their noses at the earlier recordings.
“Ritual Suicide” itself has its perks and disadvantages. Aside the thick and rather deep audio quality, you get a decent atmosphere that feels really dark, and even brooding at times. The music is often catchy with a strong second wave Black Metal approach, though the guitar solo around the seven-minute mark feels really out of place, giving more of an emotional tone to the song for a nice little while. This actually works in favor of the track, as it breathes a little more life into the mix for roughly a good minute, unlike other concepts used to delay the end. There are some extendad bridges that do feel cut before overstaying their welcome, but there are two areas where the music drops entirely to slower passages (three if you count the guitar solo-like conclusion). These areas seem to eat up a good amount of time, trying to offer up some melancholic tones to the track. Unfortunately that environmental push fails, and only one of these interruptions are necessary for the flow of the song. Of them, the second one that precurses the solo would work the best due to what it leads into.
Outside of those sections, much of the track is the same music found in the lead bridges and main verse that kicks it off, not really offering up anything too different. While these passages aren’t bad, hearing them over and over through the course of over twelve minutes with little variety to them to keep the song fresh does cause the experience to become rather boring after a while. Had the group kept it to around the six-minute mark, it honesty would have been just as effective. This is evidenced perfectly around the five-minute and twenty-five second point, prior to the second segment of atmospheric guitar padding. The way the chords are handled makes for a fantastic closing, and in fact will actually trick you into thinking it is done. Even if that padding didn’t really exist and a moment or two of silence led into a quick shift to the following solo and concluding on that instead, it still would have been as effective.
While “Ritual Suicide” itself is a solid song, it just becomes way too repetitive over way too long a time span. The deeper you get into this track, the more it feels like the band just refused to let the song naturally end, offering one false ending after another to keep it going. Whether that was the intention or not, it’s obvious Neldöreth was trying to create a rather epic, old-school Black Metal experience, and they do a decent job of it. There’s no denying the main passages are great, and the slower riffs coupled with enriching drums and deeper supporting bass chords works well with the echoed, sinister Black Metal rasp approach to create a stern offering that simply drips with nostalgic second generation goodness. It’s worth a listen, but chances are that the potential found in this song will be pushed aside by the voices in your head screaming for the track to end the closer you get to its actual conclusion, if not earlier.
Review oiginally posted at Apoch's Metal Review