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Ceremony of Silence > Oútis > Reviews
Ceremony of Silence - Oútis

Ceremony of Silence - Oútis - 70%

andreipianoman, February 20th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Willowtip Records

"Ceremony of silence" is a two man project from Slovakia that offers a pretty unusual take on blackened death metal. With a raw but also processed sound that clearly separates the instruments so you can hear each one individually, their debut album "Oútis" creates a slightly monotonous and very obscure atmosphere. It's certainly intriguing because it's very aggressive but somehow drowned out so it doesn't deliver a lot of power. If you're a fan of the genre you will not be bored and it will certainly surprise you.

From the first moment, the album jumps head first into blast beats and technical, dynamic riffing. These guys prove straight away that they can play really fast and difficult stuff. The drumming is focused on continuous grinding at incredibly high speeds and sudden shifts in patterns with a high affinity for the progressive and experimental side (see the intro to "Trance of Void"). The guitars and bass play in the same league of constant battering with lots of low frequency, black metal riffing as well as a more dynamic death style but will also move towards a higher register and complete the soundscape with a dash of melody. The best thing for me personally must be the crazy tremolo picking melodies that jump in with no warning and disappear just as fast. One thing is certain, they know music and have no shortage of skill or creativity.

That being said, I do find this album a bit peculiar and can't understand what exactly it is that they were aiming at. All songs sound the same and offer no change in style from beginning to end. "Upon the Shores of Death" must be the one that saved the album for me because it's slower and more death/doom oriented, delivering some emotion and changing the pace a little bit. But it doesn't contrast that much because thanks to the overall muffled sound, the "aggressive" style doesn't really pack up the energy that it could. The vocals don't really help either as they're very buried in the mix and barely distinguishable. However, there are things you can enjoy and the album is also quite compact with a total run time of just over 34 minutes. I can't say it's a bad release and for a debut it's quite promising. I admire the creativity and intention to try something a little different and I'm certainly not going to just dismiss this band. But they have some work to do in balancing out their ideas and making them work better from a musical perspective. In the end "Oútis" carries a lot of talent but doesn't really put it to good use, leaving me slightly dissatisfied.

Originally written for The Metal Observer.

Being and nothingness. - 85%

GrizzlyButts, June 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, 12" vinyl, Willowtip Records (Limited edition, multiple colors)

Forms in mind and created by hand into objects of function almost always rely on the void they create to become useful as tools of living. Men who are likewise molded, by self-sacrifice or indomitable governing forces, serve as vessels in this same way. We create this void from a whole person to serve as colanders of information first, then if one is lucky enough to have the gift of artistry or literal fabrications of usefulness the acquisition of wealth and power create explosive bullet to the thin brick of fleshy confine. At what point is this hollowed non-being comfortable for the sentient? It would seem disparity among mental and physical gifts creates torment among those accepting their limited malleability. Of monstrous evolutionary trait-farming comes the true random generation of transcendent milestone, a phenomenon that is entirely reliant upon the forms void (a bleak environs) to fill, to exist at all. Therein is the gift of ‘Oútis’ the puzzled piece fallen from craft of hands virtually unknown that lands in harmony within a specifically virtuous window where Ceremony of Silence would mold unforced and beyond its intended ulterior fate. Unrighteous, unassuming and entirely mystic in its breathy rifts this Slovakian extreme metal artifact lands glorious, but not pious, as it provides the keystone of brutal intellect for a thousand unfinished arches between blackened atmospheric death and taut progressive wilds.

The duo of drummer (and fine graphic designer) Svjatogor (Porenut) and vocalist, bassist, and guitarist Vilozof (ex-Abbey ov Thelema) would seemingly first unite in atmospheric black metal project Nevaloth which’d develop into a progressive black metal mutant as the years progressed towards dissolution. The two would form Ceremony of Silence in 2015 as a seeming side-project that’d develop more intensely when Nevaloth split in 2016. I learned of most of these groups, exception Ceremony of Silence, when researching coverage of Tujarot‘s limited edition of ‘Existencialista’ last year which featured Svjatogor‘s throat singing and artwork. All of these fellows (including Abbey ov Thelema‘s Delgrast) were, or are still, involved in dark ambient project 777 Babalon if you’re looking for a bigger picture of like-minded extreme metal artists within the foggy marshes of Slovakia. Though you could see some small part of ‘Oútis’ style developing on Nevaloth‘s final concept album ‘The Antagonist’ in 2013 what appears in 2019 is light years more advanced musically; Stripped of all trite progressive metal-isms and leaning in favor of a modern black/death metal style, Ceremony of Silence incorporates atmospheric blackened dissonance into watery bludgeons of riff and barreling battery, a surging and formless mass of intensity.

The clear appeal of a black metal musicians take on complex atmospheric death metal isn’t so much the sense of atmosphere that black metal sensibilities bring but the nuance that certain guitar technique bring to the the dried well of traditional death metal intensity. For my own tastes this traces back to two records very distinctly; The first is Immolation‘s ‘Harnessing Ruin’ which was for some divisive and for many a taste-maker, a door to many possibilities. The second is ‘Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum’ from Deathspell Omega which pried open a literal ocean of intense guitar techniques and possible applications since. The generational kin of these two parts was manifested in records like ‘Everything is Fire’ from Ulcerate and though you will find a hundred appropriate variants when scouring the internet that’d be the most fitting bloodline in approaching Ceremony of Silence‘s debut, particularly if examining the drum patterns at peak intensity. There are additionally modern elements appropriate for the decade plus since those references still held any public visibility beyond the new what next and in the case of ‘Oútis’ a bit of atmospheric/occult black metal style further lights the oily ocean of their sound along with a down-tuned rhythm guitar tone that is perhaps as modern as a band like Barús but free of any chugging djent-like pointlessness. To touch upon prog-tech death metal sounds, atmospheric death metal lucidity, and blackened avant-occult mutation is a brilliant balance that remains ‘heavy’ in expression.

The core appeal of this blend of seance and deathly roar is always within the nuance that’d unveil with repeat listen. A record like ‘Oútis’ may or may not reveal itself as high art depending on how much nurturing the listener provides its many-headed serpent approach. For my own tastes it provides a lot of what I love about modern black/death metal with a less brutal approach to the distinctly death metal aspects of sound. “Trance of Void” is an excellent example of a central technical guitar run that achieves brutality as it peaks, a key element of what many consider post-Gorguts riffcraft, then the track essentially recedes within a mildly grinding exit from that peak. Here I feel this exemplifies the core Immolation-esque aspect of their sound while also pointing toward the central flaw of a few compositions within, several songs build up in the mind as thrilling performative exercises that unceremoniously drop from the memory outside of the moment. As I said, it will take some nurturing to tattoo much of ‘Oútis’ within but much of it is immediately satisfying; “Into the Obscure Light” is the sort of song that eggs the listener into ‘one more spin’ just to build up to that grand moment once more. “Ceremony of a Thousand Stars” contains the most obviously appealing ‘moment’ on the record as it builds a sludgy death metal beating from wave-like, call-and-response riffs that erupt around the four minute mark into a Mithras-esque cosmic moment of yearning that will almost certainly define the record for many. There are more ‘standard’ brutality-driven feeling tracks (“Trance of Void”) but each is balanced by an atmospheric counterpart (“Upon the Shores of Death”) that help to create a full listen that is both present and being, spacious and non-being.

In analyzing extreme music I feel some amount of existential pain in touting a balanced approach to several points of extremity, as it feels as if I’d misrepresent the vital elements of unbalance that serve to create truly extreme art. To encourage a taming of insanity is a bit of a crime without context, so I avoid this difficulty by suggesting there can be no softening or polishing of this perfect storm Ceremony of Silence have created. If anything ‘Oútis’ is too beautifully rendered to the point of fine art and here I concede, this is the point I want all extreme metal to reach, when intended. The full listening experience is marred only slightly by the elastic, sludging guitar tone for my taste but that is the sort of flaw that can form into virtue over time and the great strength of these Slovakian musicians comes from their gifted patterning of intensity with space-faring unrest. Highly recommended. For preview “Ceremony of a Thousand Stars” is the obvious point of introduction and “Into the Obscure Light” is my own personal favorite piece.


[witty title] - 75%

BastardHead, April 26th, 2019

Slovakia's Ceremony of Silence is kinda hard to write about. Not because they're super bland or anything, because they're not, but because this style of squealing atmospheric black/death metal is just a scene that I never really got into. It leans much more heavily on the death metal side, owing a lot to bands like Ulcerate, Mitochondrion, and Portal, but there are heaps of spacey tremolo riffs in the background that give it an almost atmoblack atmosphere above the twisting dissonance underneath. It invokes a very harmonic dissonance, if you will.

"Invocation of the Silent Eye" kicks the album off with the best god damned riff on the album, which sounds like Gorguts took a crack at rewriting the classic opening of "Pierced from Within". Those first ten seconds or so of Outis got me extraordinarily hyped for the remainder of the record, but admittedly it never really hits that peak of psychedelic brutality again. That's not to say the rest of the album is bad or anything, but if that opening section hooked you like it hooked me, then you might be disappointed that the rest of the album takes a different approach generally. From spacey atmosphere with no riffs at all like "Upon the Shores of Death" or frantic cacophonous blasting like "Black Sea of Drought", the album never really nails that sort of hook again (apart from the intro to "Into the Obscure Light"). That's not really the end of the world though, because the rest of Outis is quite good, but opening on a fucking masterclass riff and then spending the rest of the time with dissonant weirdness is a bit of a disappointment.

Admittedly this is more of a me problem than anything else, because I can see a fan of all of the aforementioned influences loving this to death. The problem is that I've just never really cared for Ulcerate, Gorguts, and the like. Ceremony of Silence surpasses quite a few of their influences, and the black metal overtones in the melodies is really cool, don't get me wrong, but this neverending avalanche of squelching dissonance is difficult for me to really judge. They abuse this trick of either tremolo picking or chugging on one note while slowly bending the string, creating this microtonal mindfuck of brutality beneath drumming that shifts and turns so much and so rarely sticks to a beat for more than one second at a time that it's just disorienting. That's the appeal of Outis, and it absolutely works. I can't really define the difference between the bands that I love (Immolation, Mithras) and the bands that I'm generally lukewarm on (Mitochondrion, Gorguts) that do this, but Ceremony of Silence sits somewhere in the middle of those two camps. I think it's the spacey black metal melodies that keep this from sounding like something weird and unlistenable for the sake of it and instead make it sound like something wholly alien and not meant for human ears. I both love and don't really care about this, and the dissonance in my own opinion makes for a good representation of the conflicting nature of what they're doing. It's very adversarial, combative music and honestly, at its core, that's what metal is supposed to be.

Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

Contemplating the unsilent blackness. - 80%

hells_unicorn, April 5th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Willowtip Records (Digipak)

One does not normally associate a meditative state with the dissonant rage normally tied to the violent fury of central European extreme metal, but that is the contradictory image put forth by the newly formed blackened death metal duo under consideration. In much the same manner as the highly successful, Polish-born promoters of this fiendish union of extreme metal subsets Behemoth, Ceremony Of Silence is a band that walks a fine line between an atmospheric and an impact-based approach. Along for this metaphysical excursion is a rather unique blend of Immolation inspired ferocity in the vocal department, a highly technical riffing set comparable to the handiwork of the New Zealand-based tech death extraordinaire outfit Ulcertate, and a frosty production quality that conjures up similarities to Deathspell Omega and even occasionally that of Blut Aus Nord. If nothing else, it could be accurately stated that Outis, this duo’s 2019 debut is a unique creature.

This album’s very name, a Greek word meaning “no one” that was often employed by writers and artists in order to maintain anonymity, conveys a sense of mystery and esotericism that is all too fitting for its adopted style’s aesthetic. It effectively walks that all too fine line between the dense, forbidding atmosphere that often typifies the higher fidelity yet non-symphonic offerings of black metal and the more percussive impact and virtuosity of technical death metal. To the uninitiated, this duality may often come off as a bit bizarre, as the almost djenting, down-tuned character of the bottom end of the riffs and bass work seems to clash with the dissonant, flowing arpeggio lines that often emerge from the guitar work, not to mention the jarring shifts from a rhythmically diverse mixture of note clusters thrown to the listener in rapid succession versus the more simplistic droning chords over a uniform blast that compares more closely to the early handiwork of Burzum and Darkthrone, albeit with a polished production.

The diversity of influences streaming out of these songs and the avant-garde fashion in which they are unified is introduced in a manner that is anything but gradual. Right from the very onset of “Invocation Of The Silent Eye”, this album’s opening song, the cacophony of notes from the guitars and the jazzed up drumming lands on the ear with a resounding thud that’s punchy enough for Meshuggah, yet brutal and dense enough rival any of New York’s seminal death metal pioneers. It actually borders on unbelievable that front man Vilozof manages to perfectly mimic the inhumanly guttural groans of Ross Dolan while also juggling guitar and bass duties. Similar impact-based feats of technical insanity spring forth in “Trance Of Void” and “Black Sea Of Drought”, chock full of flashy riff fragments spliced together in a form that almost sounds random, like an extended atonal guitar solo that somehow manages to work in perfect synchronicity with Svjatogor’s equally frenzied and fill-happy drum work.

To this band’s credit, they are not wholly beholden to a one dimensional expression of tech-based chaos, and make for needed occasions to tone things down a bit. The most obvious respite from the unrelenting deluge of notes is the droning, midway through interlude of a ballad “Upon The Shores Of Death”, which functions in a sort of ambiguity between being a purely ambient mixture of sorrowful guitar harmonies and a slow progressing song with a restrained rhythm section that somewhat resembles what Burzum’s Filosofem might have sounded like with drums and a professional production. On the somewhat less overt side of the simplicity coin are a pair of less rhythmically discordant anthems in “Ceremony Of A Thousand Stars” and “Arising Of No Man” that, while obviously frenetic and blast happy, have more of a straight line death metal character that may prove far more accessible to the average extreme metal fan that gravitates more towards Vader rather than Decrepit Birth.

It goes without saying that an album of this stylistic persuasion is going to be a grower, but even by the standards of a number of tech death bands, this is a highly nuanced sonic experience that plays to a very specific audience. If there is any flaw in its presentation, it is that it is so complex of an offering in spite of its relatively short duration that it may struggle to appeal even to mainline fans of blackened death metal. There isn’t quite enough overt technical noodling or non-traditional metal instruments to make this an outright niche experience in the same manner as a band like Nile or Necrophagist, but it has its own distinct flavor that is definitely distinct from most of the more popular central European bands out there dabbling in either death or black metal. All the same, it is an extreme experience that is strong enough to hold a torch to Behemoth at their darkest, yet also fancy and mixed up enough to play well to anyone looking for a few twists in their death metal.

Originally written for Sonic Perspectives (