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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/).