Oct 192023

“Cold depravity”, “raw hideousness”, “hypnotic, harrowing splendor”, “an undeniable sense of dread… laced with a resigned melancholia”. Those are among the descriptions offered in the PR materials accompanying Penitence, the debut album from Connecticut-based Ritual Clearing that’s now set for release by Eternal Death on November 17th.

Can we improve upon those vivid words? Probably not, but that won’t stop us from trying, and the occasion for our strenuous efforts is the title track from the new album that we’re premiering today.

As displayed on this new song, Ritual Clearing‘s brand of black metal is hulking and imperious, but also violently berserk, and its visceral appeal is primal.

In its opening moments. “Penitence” is brutish and menacing, and only the shrill screaming of a convulsing guitar in the midst of that stomping crushfest provides a clue about what’s coming.

And what comes is a dense miasma of corrosive guitar-swarming, ruthlessly hammering percussion, and vitriolic screams. The lead guitar continues convulsing in piercing tones, but the sound of the writhing riffage seems to channel despair as well as madness.

As the drums slow, the whirring guitars create even more menacing and abysmal harmonies, and when the acceleration comes again, a feeling of unhinged exultation floods through the audio maelstrom, and those possessed vocals, which surely sent a larynx to the emergency room, add to the music’s frightening delirium.

Near the end the music spins and whirls like a lunatic dervish, and seems to levitate in frenzied, malformed raptures above punkish beats.



So yes indeed, a lot of those opening descriptions ring true when you listen to that track, though not the “resigned melancholia” (that comes through elsewhere on the album).

But you also ought to listen to the album’s opening track “Burn“, which was released into the world at an earlier date. It’s more than twice as long as the title track, and as you might expect it makes its own twists and turns.

In some respects it’s just as raw and riotous, just as deranged and deleterious, as the song we’ve premiered, the trilling riffage just as piercing (and distressing). For sure, it burns… and burns its way into the head like a cranial wildfire, and so extravagant that it sucks the wind from the lungs as it does that.

When the song takes a turn as the drums stalk, the music becomes coldly imperious and infernally menacing. A misery-steeped solo guitar and totem-like pounding function as a grim interlude, and then the drumming becomes more rambunctious and the riffing more vibrantly head-spinning. The song has a hell of a finale too.

It’s like being in the presence of a primitive and pestilential power not born of humankind, one that infiltrates the mind and decides to stay there.

Eternal Death will release Penitence on vinyl LP and digital formats, and pre-orders are available now.




  1. A mi me gusta. Me gusta mucho!

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