When I’m preparing for a full day of preaching stentorian from the mount, I always make sure said mound is grade A golgothic — nothing more, nothing less. Portland’s Ritual Necromancy are fellow infernals, further bolstering Dark Descent’s ridiculous roster with their second coming, Disinterred Horror. Now, masochist that I am, I rather enjoyed debut, Oath of the Abyss, but it was far from perfect, with a few stylistic choices that perhaps could have been better considered. Seven years later, Disinterred Horror casts a ruby eye to the sky and wisely makes some appropriate alterations, so as to more effectively spread their occult plague. After six months of frustratingly “good” but not “great” death metal releases, Ritual Necromancy are clearly making a baleful bid for that coveted crown of horns.
If you’re new to the band, Ritual Necromancy‘s sound could be most bluntly described as Incantation influenced but, realistically, this might be something of a disservice. While the material is dense, unforgiving and often psychotically monomaniacal, it uses this as a thematic choice, moving beyond the usual cavern-core by berating the listener with a grinding torrent of riffing before sinking lower into a thickly atmospheric miasma. Gone is the debut’s HM guitar tone and wet-tissue drum sound, opting instead for a more robust and direct bludgeoning, packing some much-needed weight behind the songs’ fire and brimstone. As it so often is, it’s the enhanced songwriting, however, that proves the most effective addition, suffusing the album with more of the band’s own character, thanks, in part, to the input of relative newcomer, guitarist, J. Wroth (Rites of Thy Degringolade).
Album opener, “To Raise the Writhing Shadows,” manifests with the toll of a bell, slowly solidifying with a suffocating intro before breaking into an unrelenting charge, heralded by vocalist and bassist, J.F’s, guttural ministrations. Thick trem-picking and pernicious palm mutes are the order of the day, often spliced with an array of squealing pinch-harmonics. Although the songwriting is definitely improved, the band have — purposefully I suspect — included a rather abrasive dichotomy; while the record hosts its share of neck-averse riffs, many of the rhythms opt for an attack of attrition, throwing up impenetrable walls of deathly sound before bringing the hammer down on a brief chugging passage. This has two effects: on tracks like “Command the Sigil,” boasting the album’s most immediate guitar work, the riffs are so profuse, I’m spoiled for choice. Whereas “Discarnate Machination” liberally lavishes such chaos that its only when the song’s second half descends into a comparatively slower, darker pacing that the piece comes to life, lurking deep in the negative space between notes. It’s an undeniably potent approach, but the latter’s innate freneticism, coupled with J.F.’s unyielding but uniform delivery, does fatigue upon more casual listens.
At five songs and just over thirty-five minutes, Disinterred Horror is fairly well-paced, but it does include at least one exception. Penultimate track, “Cymbellum Eosphorous,” is an eleven-minute leviathan of almost funeral doom proportions. Protracted but inexorable, the song is an absolute monster — one that requires nothing less than your full attention. While the abrupt change in pace is certainly effective, once the initial novelty wears off, it becomes increasingly apparent that the song is just too long, throwing its vast weight around seemingly for the sake of it, wasting the opportunity for more immersive riffing its innate bulk might have afforded. Fortunately, it does so inside a deceptively roomy master, allowing plenty of space for each of these necromantical screams to resound.
During their time away from the pulpit, Ritual Necromancy have absolutely gone the distance in honing their craft, evident in some of the album’s more indelible riffing. While some of their material could still benefit from a little less reliance on such well-trodden purgatorial paths, they have successfully shunned the urge to play it as safe as some of their stylistic siblings who, with the odd exception, seem intent on further dulling the lustre of the once immortal throne of Nazarene with their sadly tepid tenebrosity. Instead, Disinterred Horror is drenched with eldritch evil, and while it misses the mark on occasion, if the band’s growth can continue, I suspect Ritual Necromancy‘s future will be defined by only the blackest of flames.