The Ancient Ritual Of Death
Review by Alex on February 25, 2020.
Hearing Incantation’s front-man John McEntee would be involved in making Beast of Revelation’s debut record, The Ancient Ritual of Death, was an immediate green-light and welcoming billboard just outside the death/doom residence. Coming from under the Iron Bonehead management was similar to getting a prescription from a certified doctor for an illness; it was compulsory listening. Surprisingly, members of recently formed black metal band Hellehond, also share space in Beast of Revelation, which raised my interest as to how The Ancient Ritual of Death would turn-out if black metal of any sort would be incorporated. Hence; there are minuscule traces of it on the album which is digestible as I don't think it would have been of good measure to make the element dominant. This album served as a warm-up or maybe a glimpse into what incantation could be working on, so there was more than the average expectation for it. What’s important here (for me) is how well the songs were composed and gelled with each other. Not going to say it is tailored precisely to my preference, but The Ancient Ritual of Death as a debut has its glory moments.
Pleased and frustrated is how I would describe my initial response after the first play-through of the record. I could hear the tip-toed approach Beast of Revelation had ensued very early on; The Ancient Ritual of Death would show one hand but play another. Primarily conventional yes; however, making each song an event was poked at ever often but not fully acted upon. ‘Legions’ and ‘The Great Tribulation’ check all the prerequisites for death/doom, making any listener happy, but where evolution and individual song progression are concerned they only toy with the idea, in-turn leaving the listener somewhat satisfied but at the same time a bit underwhelmed. ‘The Cryptic Void’ seemed to be opening-up every now and again to exploit the possibilities of expansion when modifying the tempo and introducing guitar sections that would interrupt the momentum, but never followed-through on its projected promise. However, it was not until ‘The Fallen Ones’ (which I would argue is among some of the better songs on The Ancient Ritual of Death that the writing began to germinate from its stationary habits. Melodicism is used finitely, groovy sections climax with more effect implying a lifted sense of urgency and the guitars go beyond the dragging power-chords to offering a thrilling though melancholic feeling in keeping consistency with its title, ‘The Fallen Ones’. It is here The Ancient Ritual of Death began to lift its head to a gradient whereby it could realize its potential.
How Beast of Revelation went-about communicating their message, provided some mixed-feelings personally where the album’s consistency is concerned. While gradually depositing elements into the songs, thus expanding and improving (only to an extent) the complete texture of the album affected by a lack of commitment blemished the musical side of the record. However; ‘The Fallen Ones’ (for me) is where the offering truly began to shine even after ‘Legions’ and ‘The Great Tribulation’ proved to be decisive introductory content. But those along with ‘The Cryptic Void’ fell short of the bar exceeded by tracks later down the order; ‘The Ancient Ritual of Death’ and ‘We the Lords of Chaos’ for example, tighten the record’s feel and amalgamates the album to resembling something complete. Though a seemingly feasible pitch, to free-up some space for the guitars to work and alternate the musical patterns were enforced, a question of had this been done from the start, how much better would The Ancient Ritual of Death as a debut for the band would have been?
As mentioned before, the black metal is kept at a discrete and distant level in an attempt not to interrupt or undermine the death/doom aspect, but only to give support. Thus, its use through vocal snarls and tremolo picking sprinkled on ‘We, The Lords of Chaos', (to my recollection) showed good musical economy despite not being used much. John McEntee’s vocals are outstanding, still after all these years with Incantation, without a sign of depletion or deterioration, he steers the music down a passage fitting The Ancient Ritual of Death’s thematic tenor. Thus, the record as a concept (I assume) stands its ground as being a studious tenant of death/doom metal; but called for more consistency and immersive instrumentation if it would transcend conventionalism.
Rating: 8 out of 10488