Monday, April 9, 2012

Reviews: Rituals "Rituals"

By: Salvia Hex

Our Moon is steadily moving away from planet Earth. Every year it gets an inch or two farther away from us. At some point in the distant future it will completely escape the gravitational bonds of Earth and will slip away into the cold reaches of our solar system, tumbling out of even the sun's grasp in the heliosphere, until it breaks through the stagnation zone that encompasses our galaxy, fading away in the frigid emptiness of the the universe at large.

Science will tell you that this is because the Earth is so much larger than the Moon, that over the ages the Earth has slowly locked the Moon into it's orbit through it's greater size and gravity, and because of the tidal forces created by these two stellar masses, the Earth is now actually pushing the Moon farther from us through tidal bulges that form as the Moon crosses over the oceans as we slumber.

Science is wrong.

The real reason is Rituals.

In these modern times, we're always hearing about the next "brutal" band, that is so "heavy" that they'll most likely blow your ears completely off your head, or some other asinine metaphor for repetitive but directionless palm muted chugging. Those aimless praises should not be directed towards Rituals. This band has a purpose. It has direction. It has forethought and emotion to spare. It is full of real angst and power, heavy enough to move celestial bodies, beautiful enough to not merely pluck the heartstrings, but to play upon them the saddest of symphonies.

Everything about the album is meticulously crafted. The song titles themselves all deal with different aspects of grief, loss and heartbreak, and the music passionately plays right into this system of defeat. There are quiet spaces here, full of longing and introspection. It's these calm interludes that truly reflect and magnify the war elephant heaviness of the album as a whole. When the time comes to crank the volume up, Rituals does it in spades, with the tortured vocals roaring like a post-apocalyptic typhoon over the ravaged seas of discontent.

Listen after listen, this album never ceases to assert it's gravitational push. Guitars that flux between breathy atmosphere and oppressive doom, neither one overshadowing the other. This album works as the tide, with the clean passages drawing the sea back into itself, and with the waves come the burgeoning heaviness that crushes the air from your lungs, threatening to pull you out into the moonlit depths. The quiet passages are exactly where they should be, lulling the listener deeper and deeper in the most raw and exposed deserts of introspection. Never do they tarry too long and bore you, they exist as the yin, only to be pummeled by the yang embodied by the organically heavy, perfectly fuzzed assault of the more brutal passages. Please do not underestimate that word when it is properly applied. There is real brutality here. There is sheer, raw, brutal anger, the kind that comes from experiencing the most painful loss. This is the brutality of a petty tyrant, that crushes his enemies under his thumb, simply because...he can. This is Alexander The Great breaking Darius on the plains of Guagamela. This is a victory that is so complete that it crushes the enemy so much that they again have the will raise their sword in battle again.

It's no coincidence that the artwork prominently features the Moon. This band knows. They get it. Music, sometimes, is able to tap you into the entire universe. It hums and vibrates at just the right frequency at times, and can make you feel both incredibly small and fragile and massive and in tune with the entire cosmos that surrounds us. Rituals does both of those, which is no small feat. This is a staggering debut album, and we can only hope for even more brilliant work from these gentlemen in the future. Sit back in the dark and allow yourself to meditate on this album. Be enveloped by it. Let yourself feel this album push everything away, not just the Moon, but the Sun and the stars, supernovas and galaxies, hopes, cares, wishes and fears. Push it all away. Rituals exerts enough gravitational power to do just that. Sit back, close your eyes, and push it all away.

Final Score: 9/10

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