Aug 102023

We invite you into The Astral Gloom, as today we pull back the veil between worlds and allow you to gain entry. But pay careful attention to those chosen words: Deep shadows lie in wait, but things move within them that aren’t the living things which might lurk around you in a midnight stroll through the woods or dimly lit urban canyons. Chilling dangers await, as well as chilling wonders, and little of it seems to have an earthly origin.

We’re speaking of the forthcoming second album by the international collective known as The Rite, a band first spawned in 2017 through the collaboration of (Black Oath) and Ustumallagam (Denial of God) and now fully fleshed out to include drummer War D. (Morbus Grave), and guitarists Gabriel (Black Oath, Morbus Grave) and M. Desecrator (VomitVulva, Funest).

In listening to the new album it’s easy to fall into the kind of fumbling poetic reveries you saw in the first paragraph above, and a few more of them will follow in our introduction to the full album stream we’re presenting below on the eve of its release by Iron Bonehead. In much more mundane terms, you can expect an alchemical interaction of black metal, old-school doom, and (for want of a better term) “classic heavy metal”, equally prominent in nightmare atmospherics and imperious head-moving heaviness.

There’s also a cover of “Naked When You Come” by The Lollipops. More on that later.

Many black metal vocalists have excelled at expelling words (with some electronic assistance) that sound as if they come from some thing other than a human throat. Ustumallagam is one of those. There’s no screaming here, but his gritty, imperious snarls, ghastly gasps, and echoing incantations are still frightening, the kind of gritty, gutty, teeth-bared expressions that seem to find an intersection between occult fanaticism and ravenous ferocity, but demonic in their intensity rather than human.

Where else does the feeling of un-earthliness in this music come from? It has multiple sources — guitars that moan like lost souls and wail like apparitions in misery, but also swarm in the feverish hunger of shivering centipedes, charge like thrashing demon hordes, and rapidly jolt as if pistons have been given the gas; as well as keyboards that quiver and shimmer like phosphorescence in the blackness. Even softer moments, like the acoustic guitar accents in “The Fathomless Dark”, the haunted-house keys in the “Walpurgis Night” instrumental, or the slow eerie ring of a solo in the title song, put a chill on the skin.

But we did say the music is very heavy as well as very creepy. You’ll figure that out right away through the post-intro track “The Spirit of Mendes”, whose momentous and monstrous march is as spine-shaking as it is hellishly regal and utterly hopeless. In every song you’ll feel bones cracking from the iron whip of the snare and imagine the ground shaking from the lead-weighted impact of the bass. Those ingredients often give the music a primitive and primeval quality, but add a hell of a lot of visceral strength.

You’ll definitely feel the astral gloom in the music, but make no mistake, these songs will also get pulses racing and heads banging, and fire the old impulse to lift invisible oranges toward the heavens. There’s as much pentagram-strewn heavy metal glory (a lot of it ominous and menacing) on the other side of this veil as there are visions of demons and the un-dead.

And on top of everything else, most of these songs are very catchy, as well as very diabolical, straight through to the final full song, “The Valley of Megiddo”, which is home to a deliriously electrifying guitar solo, among other goodies.

And yes, right before “The Valley of Megiddo” The Rite do throw in a cover of “Naked When You Come”, The Lollipops‘ psychedelic pop song from 1966. You might want to search out the original to better appreciate what The Rite have done with it. The original itself is pretty creepy, even now, and the sung vocals are quite good. The Rite preserve the song’s core melodic components, but slow it down even more and make it an order of magnitude more sulphurous and psychoactive, thanks in part to opium-laced guitars and keys and Ustumallagam‘s lucifer-growls. It fits very well within the context of the album as a whole.

With that, we’ll leave you to the music. Have yourselves a hell of a good time in Hell!



The Astral Gloom will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats, and you can line up to get those now, in advance of the album’s release tomorrow.



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