Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ritual Necromancy - Oath of the Abyss (2011)

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.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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