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One could have expected something more bestial and swift from a band that is named NunFuckRitual, but that is not exactly the case here. Despite the name that would fit perectly into Hells Headbangers' roster, this kind-of supergroup – involving members from various black metal groups, including a connection to Mayhem – delivers slow, menacing pain that rather needles the listener with ringing discordance than ravages with blast beats.
Indeed, In Bondage to the Serpent is slow, slow to the point of deserving the subtag doom metal. But that mostly fits to the album's general pace, as riff-wise the music is more prominently black metal: repetitive high-pitched tremolo work and sinister, highly distorted plucking. On top of the simple beats and evil melodies reside various whispered and gnarled vocals. The songs always tend to end up around seven and eight minutes, and as the songs aren't that versatile nor progressive, it's ultimately the overall atmosphere that matters.
And in that NunFuckRitual succeeds: In Bondage to the Serpent is auhentically dark and evil. But what comes to individual compositions, I don't think there's that much to remember after the album has ended. A successful aura of menace is what holds the album nicely together and keeps my interest throughout, but I don't see myself returning to it very frequently. There's a couple of noteworthy highlight moments, however, such as the epic, organ like synths on ”Christotokos”.
Looking for a trip in extremely malevolent soundscapes? Then do check out In Bondage to the Serpent which surely serves that purpose. All is done pretty well here but then again, it is 2011 and there's been similar efforts quite a lot every year, and although NunFuckRitual is somewhat above the line of mediocrity, something more is needed to truly rise my attention. And I don't think that applies merely to yours truly.
3 / 5
[ http://www.vehementconjuration.com/ ]
Any album cover that depicts a deceased nun on it is going to get my attention, and that is just what happened this past October while I was browsing in my local record store. As I was going through their “metal/rock” section I noticed this NunFuckRitual album, “In Bondage To The Serpent.” The immediate vibe I got from it was in the realm of black metal, maybe doom/death metal. After purchasing the album and heading home, I did a little bit of research. Lo-and-behold, death metal/grindcore extraordinaire Danny Lilker (Brutal Truth, Venemous Concept) is in this band. It seems that Mr. Lilker wanted to expand his musical repertoire and team up with Norwegian black metal veterans who had been a part of bands like Gorgoroth, 1349, Mayhem, and Vinterland. After these new-found developments I found myself quite intrigued at how NunFuckRitual could make use of its many extreme metal veterans, and thus beginning my quest of conquering “In Bondage To The Serpent.”
If there is one thing that most traditional black metal bands like to do, it is have a very dissonant and dreadful atmosphere. Typically drawing on very dark or evil themes is a staple of the sub-genre, and with a name like NunFuckRitual, there is no shortage of that here. “In Bondage To The Serpent” is an atmospheric and drawn-out beast, filled to the brim with all sorts of misery and misanthropy. While it does have those qualities to it, the over-all tempo reaches maximum velocity at only being mid-paced, at best. You will not find any blastbeats, very few furious staccato riffs, and no demonic shrieking on this album. At most you’ll get a lot of elongated guitar chords with matching drums and bass that is capped off with slow and torturous vocal cadences.
There are only six tracks on “In Bondage To The Serpent,” and the first three tracks, “Theotokos,” “Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen,” and “Christotokos” follow the exact aforementioned musical formula, while letting the grim atmosphere overtake you tends to get boring rather quickly. Even if Attila Cshiar (Mayhem, ex-Aborym) and Ravn (1349) do guest vocals on “Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen,” there is nothing that interesting musically other than the general atmosphere. It isn’t until a couple minutes into the fourth track, “Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore” where the band actually changes the tempo dramatically and decides to actually take the music somewhere other than Dullsville. The last two tracks, “Parthenogen ” and “In Bondage To The Serpent,” now follow the same formula as “Curse Virgin, Pregnant Whore” did. I really enjoyed the second half of the album far more than the first half because there was actual energy put into the music, not to mention the drumming gets more interesting in the second half, especially on “Parthenogen.”
While I believe atmosphere can be very important to a sub-genre like black metal, it can’t make an entire album worth listening to. There has to be more to it, and I have nothing against the way the music was conducted on these few tracks. One of my main problems is that they are far longer than they need to be. I don’t need to hear the same bar of notes over and over again for NunFuckRitual to get their point across. I am now going to throw some numbers at you. There are six tracks on “In Bondage To The Serpent” and the shortest track is the title-track clocking in at 6:09, and “Christotokos” being the longest at 8:48, with the entire album run-time coming to almost 45 minutes. About a full 2/3rds of that time is used by the band through giving us the same over-drawn formula over and over again, and the worst part is that we have heard this music done time and time again by bands that have come far before this one. So, not only is there nothing new musically for the fans to hunger for, but it is continuously drilled into your head at an unbearable length of time. Is this the kind of album you really want to spend your heard earned money on?
I most certainly appreciate the effort NunFuckRitual gave with “In Bondage To The Serpent,” but let’s be realistic. With the talent this band had they should easily have been able to create something that is far more original and creative than what was actually given to us on this album. That’s what bothers me the most is the sheer amount of wasted potential. This is music that we all have heard before and done better, to boot. To be completely honest, this album was very difficult to write a review for because it literally had almost nothing going for it. Sure, I mentioned the atmosphere and second half of the album being good, but in this day and age where we have the luxury of being picky bastards with what type of metal we want to listen to, there is absolutely no reason that this album should have been as underwhelming as it was. There are small glimmers of hope in this album, and I might give NunFuckRitual another chance if they release a follow-up record, just out of morbid curiosity. To sum everything up, you may want to skip this one and just keep listening to the black metal records you already have.
Originally written for Metal Blast (http://www.metalblast.net/).
The three things that initially caught my interest when undertaking Nunfuckritual’s debut album In Bondage to the Serpent were the names Dan Lilker, Andreas Jonsson from Vinterland, and Atilla Csihar. I was quite anticipating this album to see what an American boy like Lilker could muster up with the Norwegian/Swedish contingent responsible for this purported trip into despair. It turns out the one thing keeping it from flying across my room is how boring it is with much of the music sounding too similar and without much variation. It actually sapped my energy from me.
The second track in I hear Atilla’s familiar guttural groaning and I’m slightly impressed, but let’s pretend for a minute this was the only track and I was reviewing a single. I’d be truly impressed for his vocal alone; sadly, this isn’t the case and the album suffers from some low-brow, uninspired music that moves along like a garage band attempting to channel the great dark spirits to fulfill some wayward destiny, real or imagined. By the third track, “Christotokos” I’m thoroughly bored and losing my attention span quickly. This is one of the most inane and rudimentary black metal tracks I’ve ever had this displeasure to hear, and I’ve heard too many to count. Still, I am a professional writer (or so I’d have you believe) and I give everything two chances. Upon venturing through this for the second arduous time I’m even less impressed than I was for the first 45-minutes and contemplating a return to the church.
I don’t know what the intended goal was with this record, but the end result here is one of total and complete lackadaisical quality. Each song on here follows the exact same pattern, a blueprint so sickeningly predictable and pale that I can’t understand why this was even attempted. To be honest, this resembles a bad atmospheric black metal band from the ‘cold winds of Kentucky’ that should turn in all of its instruments. Every slight-of-hand trick and bastardized nuance that could and has been implemented into the later era of black metal is evident and horrifically ‘serious’, driving home the insipidity even more than originally thought possible. This is nothing even worth hearing if you’re seeking out black metal of any quality above a “3” score. On top of this, the over-saturated bass makes Metallica’s Death Magnetic look like Master of Puppets, and we all know Fleming Rassmussen would never put his coveted name to anything that sardonic.
The complete disregard for transitional measures and the wanton droning of what is probably supposed to be ‘evil’ sounds throughout In Bondage… only comes off as derivative chastising of an audience thought to be too unknowledgeable to care or too lethargic to know how to care. Whatever manifesto these guys offer, it’s all pinpointed to one station: devoid, inane plasticity in the form of this outdated ‘necro’ sound. Give up the ghost, guys; it’s embarrassing at this point.
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)
Naming your band 'Nunfuckritual' is a choice only the most devout of black metal acts would ever consider given the sheer comic ludicrousness of it, but that is exactly the proposition we have on their debut album "In Bondage of the Serpent". The major point of note regarding the band is it's combination of scene veterans, headed by one Dan Lilker (of so many acts it's hard to note but how about Brutal Truth, S.O.D. and Nuclear Assault?); so a new act they might be but a wealth of experience lies behind it's composition. This is a fact easily borne in listening to the 45-minute six track debut; I had been expecting an artillery barrage of Marduk or Belphegor proportions but instead found the speed to be wholly inverted and of close proximity to Beherit or Burzum. This is not to say no young bands similarly emit the foul stench of those two legendary acts, but it is rare a BM act manages to resist pressing the accelerator the entire way through a release as, for better or for worse, Nunfuckritual do here.
"Theotokos" begins akin to a droning SunnO))) piece - think of the slow heavy riffing and reverberating feedback which could shift mountains - before it gets going with only a marginal increase speed, just at the moment I was anticipating getting slapped in the face with blastbeats and hellish fury. Boasting a rough, organic production which compliments the darkened nocturnal feel to proceedings, "Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen" and "Christotokos" continue in similar vein - the bass being allowed a fair crack of the whip for a change, to lead while the guitars keep a consistently cold tempo and Attila Csihar provides a typically cavernous guest vocal appearance. "Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore" is truly dark and brooding, proving to all that proximity to the dark Lord is not necessarily measured in bpm, but it becomes apparent by this point that the speed is going to remain at such tempos till the end. Whereas a Secrets of the Moon may well hone equally jet-black passages of eerie soundscapes, their interspersing of greater tempos is what makes them a more interesting proposition as only when the speed does pick up in "Cursed Virgin.." it is hard not to feel such bouts of energy could have been beneficial earlier on.
Not at all unlike 1349's hugely divisive "Revelations of the Black Flame", "In Bondage to the Serpent" is likely to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of album. For the most part I do rather like it - it is menacing, intriguing and most importantly, different - but for the top marks that extra quality of not quite knowing what is to come next is absent. Whichever way you look at it, it sure beats another run-of-the-mill black metal speed-fest.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net