With so many new bands coming along and new albums from old bands for that matter it’s easy for something to pass you by. France’s Ritualization have been kicking around for a while now with a couple of EP’s released in 2011 and 2013 and even earlier demos which I haven’t heard. Fortunately I’ve picked up on Sacraments To The Sons Of The Abyss, their recently released debut album. Fortunate because it’s pretty damn good.
After the suitably dark intro Conjuration of the Howling Depths it’s we’re into Last Rites Of The Damned and it’s relentless barrage of riffs and blastbeats make for a strong statement of intent. I’m not hearing anything particularly original here – they’ve no doubt been brought up on the old school death metal of the likes of Morbid Angel and Incantation but this stuff is played with such energy and conviction it’s hard not to be won over. They wisely slow it down now and then like on the intro of Herald Of Betrayal, one of the albums strongest moments as it happens, but this album’s largely a blackened death metal wall of sound. The vocals are typically low death growls but a black metal rasp occasionally rears its head. The standard of musicianship is excellent - inventive guitar solos but it’s more about the complex intricate riffing that’s constantly shifting as ferocious drums follow suit. This album is pretty much relentless from start to finish with the exclusion of the aforementioned Intro and outro Ashes Pouring From The Chalice, an effective way to open and close things. At 43 minutes it’s just about the right length, gets in there and kicks the shit out of you and buggers off. Perfect!
Whilst I was initially impressed it took a few plays for STTSOTA to fully reveal itself. There’s a hell of a lot going on in these grooves but it’s shaping up already to be one of the best death metal albums of 2017 so if you like your death metal on the black side you should really check these guys out. As a side note my vinyl copy came beautifully packaged with an album sized booklet and poster.