Nidrosian necromancy and Satanic servitude abound on Ritual Death’s (appropriately) self-titled full-length, which delivers 32 minutes of Black Metal Terror truly worthy of the oft-misused occult tag. From the casket-creaking opening of ‘Ancient Devil Worship’ through to the foreboding organ-accompanied funereal clangs and chimes that serve as an eerie denouement to ‘Nothingness Without Emptiness Within’, this recording rejoices and revels so deliriously in death that it is both sonically and spiritually the very embodiment of the band’s name.
Arguably Black Metal’s hardest-working and most-possessed soul, the seemingly-omnipresent Wraath (handling both vocals and guitar here) is prominent in many of the genre’s most mandatory and malicious hordes. Ritual Death is perhaps the most decadent and depraved of the lot, reeking profusely of rancid death and decay, decrepit crypts and catacombs, rotting coffins and unkempt graveyards, long since deserted by both the living and the dead.
Tombstone drumming front and central, joined there by orgiastic organ, bloodthirsty bass (courtesy of Lord Nathas) and ravenous riffs of the reaper, with those trademark demonic roars and howls completing the inglorious, unanimated cacophony summoned by the undead lords of the tomb, ‘Ritual Death’ delivers on the immense promise of those wondrous pre-existing EPs and splits, offering forth at the altar of impurity nine new necromantic, intoxicated sermons of the damned.
Like some bastard offspring of Cultes des Ghoules, 13th Moon and Necrophagia, Ritual Death’s music is shrouded indissolubly in authentic horror and pitch-black darkness. While each curse is a work of wonder in its own right, masterfully crafted and executed – lean and filler-free, thereby short and digestible, performed with single-minded urgency and intent – it is the overall, enduring atmosphere of sheer dread and menace that lingers longest after the devil has been let in.