Disconcerting and wholly captivating…
Review by Jason Guest
Release date: 23 February 2015
Hang on. There’s something wrong here. There’s no guitarist. There’s bass, there’s drums, there’s keyboards and effects, there’s vocals – two of ‘em, both female – there’s even a Bouzouki on the damned record, but there’s no guitarist. So how the hell is this so damn heavy? With the bass distorted right up to the feedback threshold, the drums thundering forth from some abyssal cavern, and the keyboards hovering in the numinous air, the pairing of Serena Mastracco’s harsh, black metal vocal with Elisabeta Marchetti’s clean and dramatic vocal makes for a heavy, haunting, and hypnotic experience.
With a Sabbath-esque doom in the grooves, the album’s mid-tempo leaden stomps are gargantuan. Eerily ritualistic and magickally moving, openers ‘It’s All Grey’ and ‘Revelation’ bear all the colossal weight of mystery, magnificence and menacing meditation. With the keyboards bringing a supernatural and psychedelic aspect to the music, so heavy and dense is the atmosphere that there’s a curious hollow to the heaving mass, as if Riti Occulti have brought us to the edge of the void into which we can only gaze, perpetually wondering what lies beyond the great nothingness.
With Marchetti making her first appearance on the album with ‘I Am Nobody’, ghost-like, she not only complements Mastracco’s black whispers, howls and scowls but augments the album’s aesthetic by bringing a gothic element that is as disconcerting as it is wholly captivating. And while ‘Alcyone’, ‘Bitter Awakening’ and closer ‘Never A Joy’ wonder deeper into the crushingly emotive landscape and immerse the listener in their unyielding and thoroughly absorbing ambience, the Bouzouki-led Eastern exotica of ‘Desert of Soul’ is beautiful and enchanting.
Originally released in 2012, Riti Occulti’s eponymous debut has been given the re-mastering treatment and is being re-issued by Nordavid Records with new artwork. A wise move on Nordavind’s part methinks. The composition, the instrumentation, and the musicianship is near-infallible. From start to finish, this is nothing less than remarkable. And with 2013’s Secta still to digest, hopefully there’s another album on the way soon…
9 out of 10
- It’s All Grey
- I Am Nobody
- Desert Of Soul
- Bitter Awakening
- Never A Joy