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Grief Ritual
Moments Of Suffering Tom Coles , October 31st, 2019 10:37

Matte black metal from Grief Ritual is bursting with ideas, finds Tom Coles

Black metal lends itself well to icy, lofty meanderings, layering and texturing itself to evoke harsh landscapes and frosty solitude. It is with some surprise, then, that it works so well with the direct approach of ferocious hardcore.

Devastatingly heavy, Grief Ritual favour a take-no-prisoners approach, leading with an instant wall-of noise barrage which opens into a violent, ferocious howl. This is disorientating, and it takes a while to realise there's a lot going on under the ferocious leads. Often, modern heavy music is peppered with little flourishes to give it colour. Here, there’s plenty of swift guitar squeals and percussive breaks, but they all stretch towards the same, miserable direction, straining to be as teeth-clenchingly ferocious as possible. Eventually it does hold back a little, though this takes the form of harsh soundscapes in ‘Anhedonia’, which explodes headfirst into more violence.

It’s interesting to see how heavy ideas pioneered by Converge and then tempered by modern practitioners such as Leeched and Conjurer are presented here. The heady blend of scalpel-precise angular riffs and sledgehammer-blunt percussive ferocity are an effective choice, giving the EP thrust and energy to their weight and volume. The focus on intensity, in tandem with their polished modern production, means they hit harder than a lot of their predecessors. The EP feels stretched and strained, tightly-coiled, in much the same way that the first Napalm Death records sound; heavy for sure, but in the sense that at any moment the whole thing could collapse into ashes.

The atmosphere is well-maintained, and it’s here that the black metal elements really shine. Tremolo-picked guitars and blastbeats are familiar genre features, and here they focus on a repetitive, hypnotic pummelling effect. In a lot of ways they strike as a matte black Deafheaven, using a slightly more limited palette but still creating a nuanced exploration of caustic catharsis.

There are a lot of ideas here, all pushing towards the same goal, creating a focussed EP. Grief Ritual could do well to expand on some of these ideas in future. But for now this is a devastatingly heavy offering, and incredibly mature for a new band.