Review by Paul Castles
Release date: 1 August 2014
Solo musical experiments are admirable in their own right but you just wonder where they will lead – not presumably to live performances for a start. That said, Void Ritual – or to give him his real name Daniel Jackson (also of Ancestral Oath) – have released an enjoyable debut EP set against a festering old school bleak black metal landscape. It’s confrontational, chilling and cataclysmic and so ‘Cold’ is certainly an apt title for the first of the four tracks on Holodomor.
Jackson may hail from New Mexico but his heart is clearly with the grandfathers of the domain, the Norsemen of yonder days, deep, desperate and as untamed as a Dartmoor pony. Rhythmically, ‘Cold’ pounds its way along with frenzied drumming and piercing divergent riffs. The song ‘Void Ritual’ is another teeth-chattering blast from the chiller, sinew-stretching vocal cries fighting for air against some demonic drumming and a riff so sharp you’ll almost cut yourself on it. The pace eventually eases off to be replaced by a steadier sinister rhythm within which more tales of darkness are to be found.
Holodomor was the name given to a man-made famine that took the lives of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s. Without appearing flippant or callous to a historical tragedy, Jackson’s attempt to convey something of that cataclysmic episode on the song of that name is not without merit. After a rasping opening burst of anger the peaks climb progressively higher until some kind of plateau is finally reached and the sound levels out to a throbbing rasping climax with distant barks and cries from the wilderness flittering in and out of the maelstrom like silhouettes in the trees. Closing track ‘Mourning the Dawn’ introduces itself in a more restrained manner, a quietly defiant guitar helping to paint another ambient canvas. The heartbeat probes heavier and deeper before the dogs of darkness are unleashed and the song descends into another battleground where the pain and anguish seep through the wounds.
Where Void Ritual go next will be of interest. There’s enough on Holodomor to maintain your interest until that decision is made. If you wish to take this further then the first three tracks on the EP are available via Bandcamp, while ‘Mourning the Dawn’ appears on the cassette version only, available via Void Ritual’s Facebook page.
7 out of 10
- Void Ritual
- Mourning the Dawn