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This is a band from the US, one of many beginning bands in the up rise of USBM at the time, who is often left in the dust. Ritual suffered from poor early days, mistaken for the typical “raw black metal” that got no recognition whatsoever. However, around the year of 1995, the band had released their debut album, “In The Forests”. Claimed to be a classic in the underground black metal scene, I checked it out finally.
Classic, indeed. The first two songs can compared to an earlier Pagan corpse-painted Behemoth album, “…And The Forests Dream Eternally”, but the production seems to be a bit clearer and distorted, and the vocals are even better. Groovy, catchy, and dark all while keeping the typical black metal sound, Ritual seems to be doing a good job at writing some great black metal. The songwriting is astounding; somewhat repetitive, but second guitars playing some with haunting, yet soothing, keyboard laden backings is often throughout this release. Not to say that’s a bad thing. The vocals here range from demonic death growls to piercing tortured shrieks, and vary often so it’s interesting and not so monotonous; something that a lot of black is infamously known for.
When listening to this album, you will notice the great transitions between the slower melodic interludes and up tempo black metal riffing, and how the band refrains from using and unnecessary repeats, making way for a very pleasant listen. Even with the drums, which are programmed, stay interesting, though simple and triggered. Production is too much of a plus, as the guitar tone is very touchy with the distortion, but not overdone, and bass is quite audible, adding to the atmosphere of “In The Forest”.
What I enjoy most about this album, however, is how well executed and emotional it is. This is black metal with riffing that can portray melancholy, capture evil and hatred, whilst reminiscing of Pagan beauty. Superb beyond any doubt. A very memorable album, with some extraordinary moments in atmospheric black metal. Mind you, this is 1995. This is definitely a classic, as I’ve heard many times before. I wouldn’t go far as saying this band is perfect, but it ranks pretty high up there.