What drew my attention to Rituaal were the band’s members: They consist of guitarist/vocalist Justin Stubbs from Father Befouled and Encoffination, drummer Jake Rothlisberger from Nashville’s Mourner, and vocalist/guitarist Mike Meacham from Loss — killer bands, all of them. That trio formed Rituaal a little over a year ago and recorded two songs in September 2012 that will be released as a 7″ vinyl EP by Portland’s Parasitic Records this summer. Recently, Rituaal put up both songs for streaming on Bandcamp — “Ordo Walpurga” and “Datura at the Astral Sabbat”.
Imagine a musical black hole deep in a gravity well that’s inexorably sucking all light and matter down into its powerful vortex, and that will give you some sense of “Ordo Walpurga”. It’s a massive, groaning dirge of distorted chords and ponderous drum and cymbal hits, emanating a morbid melody and echoing with the cavernous roars and disemboweling shrieks of the vocalists.
“Datura at the Astral Sabbat” vibrates with unholy blackened energy. What begins as a ritualized chant of abraded vocals and thumping percussion accelerates into a buzz of tremolo-picked guitars and then slows to a crawl, still shrouded in distortion and breathing with the life of shimmering occult melody. This trade-off between ghastly doom/death and blackened misery continues until this beast gasps its last horrific sound.