Under the pandemic forged restrictions of the past eighteen or so months, Irish metallers The Risen Dread utilised the time to work on and record their debut album and now with its highly anticipated arrival upon us it is a tempest of sound and tension easy to see commanding keen attention.
Since being formed in 2018, The Risen Dread is a band which has been gripping ears and support at home and across Europe. Playing support to Malevolent Creation on tour and undertaking their own European tour were potent marks on their ascent as well as the release of the well-received Delusions EP before Covid consumed freedoms and more. As said, it is a time the quartet embraced creatively with their self-produced debut the result, an encounter which certainly took us by the scruff of the neck and demanded our hungry attention.
The Dubliner’s sound is a cauldron of varied metal, one regularly tagged as groove metal/metalcore bred but swiftly revealing its melodic death, thrash and further varied inclinations within Night Hag. The album itself is “a concept album with mental illness as its central theme, all the tracks focusing on a particular illness or a historical figure that had multiple disorders” with its titled protagonist referenced throughout until consuming the album’s closer to bring all the themes touched upon together.
Night Hag opens with Psychoses, a shadow bearing bell a call into a smog of portentous breath and celestial deception from which Marco Feltrin’s visceral tones erupt and within another couple of breaths the full hellacious power of the band surges. Riffs consume as rhythms brutalise, grooves a nagging salve to the violence and it all made for an immediate incitement of pleasure. Whether prowling with toxic intent or ravishing with barbarous ruthlessness, the track crushed the senses and sparked the passions with its almost kaleidoscopic twists of imagination and dexterity further manna for the appetite.
In a way it is a template for what was to come, the guitar of Will Ribeiro merciless in his ravening riffs and wickedly compelling in his grooving whilst the rhythmic assault of bassist Mat Maher and drummer Colum Cleary is athletic in sadistic enmity and manipulative prowess. Equally the vocals of Feltrin come in a diversity of trespass and intensity to assault and lure, yet as the following Silent Disease proved each track has its own design and tempest of individuality.
The second song swings in on a distance bred groove to ensnare and invade body and senses, its passage maybe not as destructive as its predecessor’s but torment and ill-will flood its veins and contagious body. Powerful and without mercy, the song does allow the listen to lick their wounds a touch, instead working on thoughts with its calmer but voracious sonic vines, the track like poison ivy sticking steadfastly to ears and psyche before Bury Me tunnels deep with sinister grooves and senses stalking rhythms. Guitars and bass spring a nagging harassment, a controlled but edacious persecution which only blossoms as the song and vocals share their infernal enterprise.
As the likes of Obsession picks off the senses in voracious rallies and Sound Of The Unknown erupts like an agitated hornet’s nest, the album simply tightened its grip on already undiluted attention, both tracks twisting and turning in invention and spite as the band’s multi-faceted metal brew ravaged. The first of the pair found Maher spring a deliciously gnarled bassline whilst its successor stole a march on favourite track choice with its feral invention and unpredictable intent, a decision certainly argued by next up Fallen though with its thrash borne badgering and blazing tempestuousness.
In the end there was no escaping the persuasion of the outstanding Deceiver, a track living up to its name with inviting grooves and inspiriting hooks which only lead to another bloodthirsty transgression or from Coward’s 9 which from another compelling Maher bassline led to a hardcore bent cyclone of malevolence aligned to a callous sonic molestation of the senses which was as virulently enlivening as anything upon the release.
Sandwiched between is White Night which features an ear seizing solo from Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser within a martial annex of the senses which continues to stamp rhythmic authority as the fires of hell and mayhem consume, the track inspired by the mass murder-suicide of Jonestown or more the paranoia leading up to it.
The insatiable Lazzaretto with its gluttonous riffs and concussive rhythms pretty much had us hook line and sinker next, melodic entrapments and sonic restraints stopping want of escape before the blaze escaping Feltrin’s. It proved a gripping incitement which led to another in album closer, The Night Hag. Featuring the keys of Brazilian composer Renato Zanuto, the track is a theatre of claustrophobic shadows and suffocating intensity weaved in a wealth of melodic and dramatic textures. It is succubus like in sound as its titular protagonist and one enthralling end to a triumph which has us lusting and ripping at our ears each and every time.
Night Hag is out now via Wormholedeath.
Pete RingMaster 29/01/2022
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