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A thing is certain: we're light years away from the writing beggary of "Commandments", the return to death metal to the core that, honestly, made me worry about their future.
It's not a case the new album lands just a year after, and already from the first listen we can witness little has changed from the previous episode: the heavy/hard experiments of albums like "Warpath", "Bringer Of Blood" and "13" (for sure the most interesting) have been put aside mostly, and even if the structural linearity of the songs – which don't always follow the song shape, as showed by the opener "Death By Machete" – has a lot in common with the classic heavy rock music, the riffing nature is death/thrash to the bone, despite some more heavy metal passage or break.
The rhythms are straight and groovy, with some blast beat passage ("Involuntary Movement Of Dead Flesh") and some up tempo, but always in the typical 4/4 tempo standard (only "Shot In The Head" has got some strong syncope in the verses). Not too different from what they did in the past, but the result is not as pink as back then.
"Death Rituals" is not a bad album, at all, and it confirms them to be the leader in this kind of extreme music, which is basilar, straight, sort of AC/DC of death metal. But there are no peaks: "Maximum Violence" and "True Carnage" had some horrible songs, but also some unforgettable masterpieces; contrarily, "Death Rituals" never drowns into the mud, enjoys a very high average quality, but the songs are little focused and are closer to some nice riffs collections than to nice songs.
If then you also add some excessive déjà-vu (the break of "Death By Machete" recalls the variation of "The Day The Dead Walked", the middle riff of "Into The Crematorium" recalls that of "No Warning Shot"), then you must consider "Death Rituals" an involving satisfactory album, but which is not memorable anyway. Their reputation is solid, but not improved.
Originally written for Silent Scream http://www.silentscreamzine.com/Home.asp?Lang=ENG