Bloody Ritual (Canada) – Hail Victory

A black metal tape limited to 33 copies, entitled ‘Hail Victory’, and graced with art of a monochromatic forest really doesn’t hold a whole lot of promise. So I guess, at least on that front, it’s not surprising that Bloody Ritual manages to exceed expectations with its debut demo. What is somewhat surprising, though, is the degree to which those expectations are exceeded; quite a bit, in this case, with ‘Hail Victory’ standing in the upper echelon of black metal demos released this year. Get past the undeniably mundane aesthetics and you’ll find music that’s anything but, and though it conforms to many of the modern lo-fi black metal scene’s conventions, it does enough new (and enough of that newness well) to be a worthwhile tape for most underground black metal fans.

While the production is traditionally blown-out and very thin, it doesn’t really hide the quality of the music within. Bloody Ritual’s music is all about riffs, generally midpaced to fast and militaristic like on ‘Strange Aeon’, or a bit more strangely mystical with the addition of subtle, psychedelic lead guitar such as on ‘Leviathan’. With the drum machine pushed far into the background and the vocals being employed only sparingly, the listener is allowed to focus his attention purely on the guitar. The riffing is actually surprisingly complex at times, with an above average technical skill (at least for what you typically find in 33-limited demo tapes) and a powerful sense of melody. ‘Leviathan’ is easily the most unique track here, with its bending lead guitar over punky riffing and very harsh vocals. It’s not nearly as minimalistic and monodimensional as you would expect from this sort of thing, and speaks to a pretty high level of songwriting skill. The two covers are also nicely executed, as is the odd duck of the bunch, ‘Sworn By Blood’, a strange, droning dark ambient track that seems to be composed of layered guitar noise. It’s actually pretty cool.

There’s not a lot I can think of that this really sounds a lot like; maybe the first Burzum album, but that’s a pretty general description. It almost sounds like the kind of thing that would come out of Blazebirth Hall or a similar eastern European circle. It has a similar juxtaposition of the militaristic and the pagan, and the delivery has the same inherent grasp of atmosphere and songwriting that such Russian artists hold. I could see this being showcased next to a band like Russia’s Forest without trouble. It stays interesting throughout by never doing one thing too long, with the original tracks broken up by covers and ‘Sworn By Blood’, as well as the opening and closing guitar-only tracks which are actually well executed. Is it raw? Yes, it most certainly is, as well as being somewhat primitive. But it’s about as advanced as raw and primitive get when you’re releasing a 33-limited tape. It’s impressively composed and enjoyable music that doesn’t get old with repeated listens and is definitely worth one’s time.

The style of Bloody Ritual is, of course, somewhat unrefined on this demo, but it shows enormous promise for the future, as well as being damned good on its own. If you can, try and hunt down one of these tapes if you’re the sort that’s into underground, raw black metal; you really can’t go wrong with such an acquisition.

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~ by noktorn on November 6, 2007.

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