Ritual – The Resurrection

After a twelve year wait US black metalers Ritual has returned with a new impressive album in The Resurrection, a release that despite a long hiatus shows the band has moved with the times and changes within the genre to bring something that though not necessarily innovative is fresh and more absorbing than the majority of black metal offerings this year. Though not flawless and from early reviews elsewhere fostering a mixed reaction, The Resurrection for us is an impressive and thoroughly engaging album that offers a less intense but more incisive and warm melodic flow of sounds. To some it might seem lightweight but without the venom and spite that most genre releases still feel obliged to carry and its clear openness allowing guitars and bass to express with a defined clarity the release is a vibrant and intriguing pleasure.

Formed in 1993 Ritual was one of the prominent and more influential purveyors of early US black metal, their three albums The Summoning (1995), Demonic Winter Metal (1997), and Soldiers Under Satan’s Command (1998), all making a distinct mark in the ears and upcoming band’s creative thinking, though it is fair to say without making a ripple in the immense wave of European black metal.  Then the band split and the years passed until Ian Fleming resurrected the band as a one man project, writing songs that would become The Resurrection.

Released via Funeral Rain Records, it is easy to see why some find the album underwhelming as it has very little malevolence, bitter nastiness and evil intent that is expected with black metal. The melodies and creative play is warm against cold themes within the songs and at no point even in the great closing instrumental of ‘March Of The Damned’ with its almost celebratory parade of the aftermath of life and lost souls, does the album step beyond the melancholic into total despair or hopelessness. Personally this brings a fresh and engaging element that is pleasing and a welcome change at not having to fight various aspects of a song and its creativity to find its heart and soul.

Just as it ends the album starts with an instrumental in ‘A Funeral For My Heart’, a piece that is poetically emotive from touching expressive guitars that with a slow dawning open up the senses to its well written passage. As it emerges throughout the album on most songs, nothing is complicated or overdone, its simplistic creativeness allowing the emotion to flow easily. This opens the way for the title track with similarly flowing guitars leading in the rasping caustic vocals. The malice within the album primarily comes from Fleming’s delivery and intent allowing the music to bring the light and uplifting elements that win out on all tracks. This is not to say The Resurrection is an ‘indie’ version of black metal but it is wonderfully accessible and more eager to share then to consume and violate like most equivalent albums.

Each track offers something different with a varied creativity and delivery. ‘Executioner Of The Elder Gods’ is an excellent excited stomp with scything guitars and rampant basslines and the best track on the release, closely followed by the chest beating declarations of ‘This Means War’, its anthemic shouting and powerful energy the hardest and unleashing the most anger to burst forth from within The Resurrection. The threatening ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Temples Of Baphomet’s Sons’ also whittle away at the senses with some display of vehemence especially vocally but again musically and especially from the bouncy basslines there is always that rope of hope and safety to cling to.

As mentioned earlier the album is not without a few ‘negatives’ as in the vocals of Fleming lacking real diversity across the release and though he is strong enough it leaves the music the task to ensure ones focus. Also there were moments calling out for more progressive guitars sounds and intricacies to send some surprising tingles through the ear. Saying that though The Resurrection is a great album and one of the most pleasing and appetising black metal releases this year with its turn towards the light rather than joining the rest in the black shadows and should be given full attention.

RingMaster 14/12/2011

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Take The Seven – Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious

From their debut mini-album alone one can tell that UK alternative rock band Take The Seven have all the ingredients to make more than a big impression on rock music. From robust rhythms and riffs, scorching melodies, and smooth harmonies that engage and induce full attention the Chesterfield quintet eagerly show on Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious why they have garnered a strong and enthused support though only being a band for twelve months.

There has been an impressive array of great debut releases and bands appearing this past year, the months blessed with some inspiring and exciting sounds but there has not been many as rounded and virtually complete as Take The Seven. In their few months together the band has toured the UK extensively and played shows with the likes of Senses Fail, Glamour Of The Kill, Failsafe, and My Passion to great acclaim and success. Their sound is big, expansive, and refreshingly contagious, even in their quieter moments and an easy fit within the ear. The songs invite and entertain like old friends, their creativity and melodies a warm and stirring caress, which leads to the only criticism one can place upon the band. They bring songs that sound close to other bands of the same intent only these five accomplished musicians do it better. Criticism is maybe too strong a word as it is more a case of the band yet to find their own truly unique and distinct sound but with an album that is this enjoyable and music that is mesmeric and exciting even if familiar, Take The Seven are not only ones to watch but to put a wager on to find big success. 

From opener track ‘Welcome to My Town’ and its deliberate thumping riff over an inviting melodic guitar hook you know you are in for something powerful even with the subtle intro. The firmly guiding drums of Gaz Oldale frame a blaze of galloping guitar riffs from Si Redfern and James Hall that offer glowing meandering almost classic rock like asides. The bass of Joe Kitson prowls with an almost menacing surety and uniting all is the excellent clean vocals of Dan Molloy. This guy can sing, not once here or on the rest of the album is there a hint of him straining or struggling to make the emotive tones and clear melodic notes he produces, and backed by Hall and Kitson the harmonies are spot on. This is just the start and more and better is to come.

Through The Crossfire’ is a gem and arguably the best track, its slower pace and incisive melodies keeping heavier tendencies in check though they are always seemingly there waiting to break free. As with all the songs you find yourselves singing along quite early even upon the first listen, that familiarity again but to be honest it makes each track more of an event and an instant connection. ‘Duchess’ drops the pace even further though still its heartfelt emotion comes with a good vitality and ability to get the senses involved and Molloy gives more keen evidence of his talent to touch more than a few hearts ones suspects.

Throughout Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious everyone is on their game from the creative and infectious melodies and inventiveness of the guitars to the pulsating basslines and powerful and controlled drums. ‘Ships And Sails’ is semi anthemic and you can visualise live the crowd moving as one to this and ‘Burnout’ another slower paced but emotionally powerful song, both adding quality to a thrilling release. Completed by the epic sounding ‘History Is Written By The Victors’ and the acoustic ‘The Artist’ the album is immense and for a debut gives a flowing anticipation for what is ahead for Take The Seven, watch out 2012.

If you are looking for quality melodic rock to start your New Year than Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious is a must upon its release on January 9th. It carries touches of the likes of We Are the Ocean, Funeral For A Friend, Sick Puppies and Three Days Grace even a little Lost Prophets and it is a gem. Pass Take The Seven by and it is your loss, this is a wonderful album and any band that cites Reuben as a like has to be checked out, it the law.

http://www.taketheseven.com/

RingMaster 14/12/2011

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