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Ritual Necromancy seems to be becoming one of the more recognized death metal bands in the U.S. currently. I feel like they are not getting quite enough attention as they should because they definitely stand out more than many other underground death metal bands. This release was put out on CD by Dark Descent, but later reissued on cassette by Parasitic Records.
To start, these guys play evil death metal with Swedish guitar tones and complex riffs. I would not drop these guys into the "Incantation worship" category because I do not feel like they "worship" them. These guys sound like a mix between early Dismember, Incantation, and Portal. The vocals are a very low guttural that fits right in with the instruments, you can hear it clearly, although it stays a bit buried. The drum production is very raw especially when it comes to the kick and snare. I have no complaints for the overall mix, all of the instruments sound exactly as they should, there is no instrument that stands out more then the other, and there are none that should.
For the most part this album stays at a very fast pace, but at the right times gets slow, but is never boring. The leads have a very creepy feel to them, they could easily be compared to the leads from Autopsy's "Severed Survival" or Darkthrone's "Soulside Journey". This band knows how to write a song with good song structure, they are always changing things up and never come back to an overused riff. The album stays like this the whole way through, each song sounds different then the one before it and that is the reason why this is such a solid death metal album. The technicality of the riffs is what sets this band apart from other modern death metal bands. It is obvious that this band wanted to create something different, and they did a great job of it. There are many over rated bands that have a great label and get a lot of recognition, the only problem is most of those bands sound good for a couple of listens until you realize that the songs have nothing interesting about them, or they are played sloppily and aren't mixed well. This album is very raw, but there is a difference between a raw production and a shitty production that is hardly listenable. Ritual Necromancy wrote an excellent album with the production that fit them perfectly, and it would not have happened without the extreme talent that the musicians have.
There is no reason to not give this album at least 2 listens. Its old school death metal with an old school sound, put this in your cassette player and don't tell me its not pure evil
The recent trend in death metal seems to be the old school death metal revival, a la Incantation. Releases that brag the old school vibe and musical style have been numerous in the past year, and Dark Descent Records presents yet another contender with Ritual Necromancy's debut full length album, Oath of the Abyss.
If raw and dark death metal is your kind of thing, Oath of the Abyss would certainly satisfy. Album opener Accretion sets the mood right with the dirty production quality instantly hitting the listener, with an atmosphere so heavy that it almost feels suffocating. The spoken samples at the background help make things feel even more creepy and haunting, and this serves to build the tension in the song before all hell breaks loose with Cacophonic Dementia. And aptly titled the song is, with the whole wall of sound that crashes down upon the listener, with the drums of KS being the main focus and driving force of the band's sound. The tone of the drums are such that it sounds almost machine-gun like, especially the sound of the snare which would have fitted comfortably in any war metal album. The bass drums are also tuned nicely, hitting the listener hard and having an impact so great that it makes the listener feel as if his heart could smash its way out of his chest at any instant.
Bassist/vocalist JF's vocals are a low guttural style, as if they were summoned from the depths of hell. The gnarling and biting tone of the guitars, accompanied by the chaotic playing style of guitarists AW and LF makes sure that no man is left sane after the 37 minutes of ear-torturing. The influences in the band's playing are clear, ranging from bands such as legends Incantation to more recent bands such as Vasaeleth and Ignivomous, only put to a more dirty and heavy mode. The variation in pace in the album makes the album more interesting and prevents listener from blanking out by throwing curveballs at the listener when least expected, such as the urgency in Desecrated Omnipresence that comes after the sludgy and doom-paced ending of The Chasm. This also makes longer tracks like the last 2 tracks Consummating Crypts of Eternity and Oath of the Abyss not as boring as typical 6-7 minute tracks would be.
The utilisation of various sound samples throughout the album provide some sort of context to the album, and also serve as a transition between songs such as at the beginning of Descent. The loudness of the album (at times resulting in clipping in the audio) also makes album such as this even more appealing, with no compromise on any aspects at all, resulting in the album sounding as authentic as possible, without any pretensions.
At this point, we may never escape the the cavernous, blasphemous miasma of Incantation. After just reviewing the most recent Dominus Xul album, I can turn right around and review the new album from Portland, Oregon newbies Ritual Necromancy. To be honest, I could spend the next week reviewing albums that sound almost exactly like the seminal New York death metal act. The whole thing has gone officially over the top, and Oaths of the Abyss fits right into the endless sea of imitators as neatly a coffin fits into a grave.
Oaths of the Abyss is not devoid of charm or redeemable qualities: the stiflingly thick production is particularly impressive, and the atmospheric waves of static and churning riffs creates a strong hypnotizing effect. This is the production sound Portal was shooting for with Swarth but failed to obtain, which is a major part Oaths of the Abyss appeal. The rest depends of(I am saying this again, and likely again in the very near future) how much you like Incantation and their recent sea of imitators. Do you love Vasaeleth, Antediluvian, Father Befouled, Grave Ritual, Dominus Xul, Vorum, Grave Upheaval, The Wakedead Gathering, Cemetery Urn, Ignivomous, Impetuous Ritual... ugh. Do you see where I am going here? Oath of the Abyss is perfectly competent and effective, but at this point it is hard to justify the existence of this album.
Here is the thing: Ritual Necromancy are not better than most of the bands I just mentioned, and they have few of the progressive elements that the forward thinking members of this movement have. Oaths of the Abyss is as straightforward and joyless as any album released this year: there is no spark of creativity of adventure here, but instead a methodical snuffing out of all light and hope. There is something to say for that, but it is a mission that only takes me so far. I very much enjoyed Oaths of the Abyss; this is a sound that appeals to me on a base level and one that still has not worn out it's welcome. But one cannot objectively look at this album, one that has already been written before, and consider it anything more than a chant of worship.
originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/
Ritual Necromancy are another band to emerge into the wave of modern death metal acts that are stoked on cavernous atmospheres and old school nostalgia more than on technicality or progression, and to this extent their debut Oath of the Abyss might seem to lose itself in a large selection of peers. However, what I would instead laud the Oregon outfit for would be their utterly disgusting production, which makes the listener feel as if he/she is being dredged and processed through a sewage treatment plant and shat out into a cesspool of waste and remains. Think somewhere between old Incantation and the Australian Portal, and you've got a close approximation of their sound, but clearly there are also traces of disEmbowlment and Demilich haunting their gaping black maws of swallowing, down tuned sound.
Oath of the Abyss begins with a somnolent, dark ambient piece called "Accretion" which morphs into vocal samples and yawning guitars that are picked so fast they seem as slow as dirt; after which the listener is hurtled into utter chaos with "Cacophonic Dementia", a too aptly titled architecture of charging, blasted rhythms and ominous growls of the Incantation variety. This track is a pounding headache, with tinny drums and rumbling bass-lines that waste no time in forcing your bowels to quake. Unlike a lot of these 'cavern-core' bands (I made that up), Ritual Necromancy do not favor the slower material over the brazen old school death velocity, and several of the shorter tunes ("Descent", "Penitence") are little more than dense, juggernaut thrusts into the womb of the Earth, spewing mud into the listener's ears. But they still do engage in their share of death/doom inspired fare like "Consummating Crypts of Eternity" or much of "The Chasm" that draw a few comparisons to acts like Decrepitaph, Denial and Father Befouled.
I can't fault these Northwesterners for their atmosphere, which is copious, oppressive and morbid almost beyond belief, but I did find the same dearth of memorable riffing patterns that plagues a lot of bands in this niche. Every so often, they'll throw in these jarring, atonal lead picking sequences that all too easily standout from the rest of their respective tracks, because aside from the sheer, sludge and sulphur abuse of their writing, there are rarely moments of revelatory transition or haunting resilience stirred among the murk. They get some credit for avoiding the boredom trap, due to their attention towards dynamic tempos, but if I were to pluck out almost any single guitar riff on the album it probably wouldn't stand out so well on its own. That said, they can certainly play. The experience of several members shines through, and if anything, Oath of the Abyss is at least effective at conveying it's oozing, ominous themes through the music, even if the total experience never calcifies enough aural stalactites to pierce the memory.