(Norway-based writer Karina Noctum, who usually brings us interviews, brings us another enthusiastic review, this time focusing on the 2017 album by Australia’s Impetuous Ritual.)
Even though it is coming out a bit late (sorry for this), I decided to write this review anyway. But before I attempt to describe this beauty of an album, I would like to tell you that Impetuous Ritual have nothing to do with Portal. If you thought they did, they deny this, even though it seems that pretty much everyone says so. Their mystical Roman-numeraled personas are to remain unknown, and that’s fine. Now we have lots of musicians called I, II, III, IV, and so on in BM. Someone should start using binary codes just to make a difference.
Back to the music. I think this is absolutely one of the best albums this year. It is very Australian! I adore the sound. True madness, darkness, and old-school feeling. The band show their cumulative experience in a piece that may seem raw, but is technical and well-produced. The album shows that it is absolutely possible to combine those qualities. This is the kind of album that leaves others with no excuses. Bad production and poor musical skills are by no means what makes something raw.
Blight Upon Martyred Sentience is infused with feeling, the kind of old-school climax that one usually only gets in small doses here and there. The novelty here is that for Impetuous Ritual, that climax must be taken beyond, given in overwhelming doses until your senses get, not into a climax, but into outright paroxysm.
The ambience is totally darkened. They do not need imagery, masks, props, or anything else along those lines. They express pretty much everything I hold dear in metal with their music. The album is probably one of the darkest jewels out there. However, it starts with a subtle, familiar sound that only serves to contrast what is right to come. The truly dark sound cuts in and starts dragging you down into a black chaos of distorted strings. You start spiraling down and are met with a familiar old-school solo frenzy, only interrupted by a heavy overwhelming bass that makes it all darker and leads you toward an abyss full of voices.
The norm for every other abyss-like soundscape you encounter in Black Metal has been for the voices to be full of anguish and despair, but the voices in this album are just one with darkness, just madness. They are in their element, existing in their dark nature. It is not suffering that they evoke, and that’s why I am going to abstain from any comparisons to some kind of purgatory. Instead, hearing this is like being transported to a different dimension; whatever these sentient beings are, is up to you to decide. It is a form of transcendence. It bears the feeling of abyssal infinity. I totally get the spatial feeling between the musical layers. IR has given you a place created with music, and for all those who appreciate ambience this is quite a mesmerizing delight.
It all subsides and you get the shimmering bells. The voices leave. Next it hits you, a frenetic old-school solo madness. I totally love this from the Australian scene. Everything turns into a well-organized old-school madness. All conventions are not only used but abused. All that you love, all that gets you going, is transformed into a frenzy. This should be all you want, but they give even more, until you feel overwhelmed — but it’s not like you want it to stop either.
If you are well used to bands building up to a climax and then letting you rest while everything builds up again, you will surely feel this is a bit odd, as it doesn’t really stop. But the more you listen the more you get to appreciate it. This is one of those challenging bands that you need to listen over and over again until you appreciate the intricacy of the music.
The bells again, you are called back somewhere. That part of the seance is over for now. So it starts again in an apparently asynchronous attack, which in reality is perfectly harmonic and just gives the effect of being asynchronous. The album continuously displays a dense ambience created with the help of intricate vocal effects, distortion, and a variety of tempos. Strings blending in and guitars muted at times, cutting in. IR make use of archetypal DM riffs, but rather than being slowed down, it seems more like they are stretched out, producing a rather unique sound effect.
I find that “Synchronous Converge” stands out and leans more toward the tech side of things, yet this is all accomplished without sacrificing the overall overwhelmingly dark ambience. It is precise and tight for the most part until it slows down and you are brought back to the comfortable, trance-like, familiar sound. A brief respite before you sink into the abyssal madness again by means of seriously paroxystic guitar abuse.
“Sullen” is a song that serves as a contrast. Faithful to its name, the song marks a mood change. It is kind of cold and melancholic. It has an enthralling nature. It’s a dark calmness. The voices are gone and you are called into what seems a funereal ambience. A solemn song indeed.
The drumming gets a predominant place in “Feculence Reveled”. It is never boring, ever-changing, and pretty rhythmical. “Intransience” announces that the seance is over again. You are slowly taken back to the very beginning with a riff that is in the same vein of the one that starts the whole album. It is a cycle, it seems, like a never-ending cycle. The voices are back, you are back inside the dark abyss, and you just stay there, because there is no actual closing. No end.