Posthum – The Black Northern Ritual (Indie Recordings)

Wednesday, 12th November 2014
Rating: 7/10

Posthum’s 2012 sophomore outing Lights Out presented a myriad of possibilities. Here was a by-the-book Norwegian black metal band essentially flirting with elements of post-BM, which may or may not encapsulate Deafheaven and friends. And while the album was somewhat lopsided, headed up by the fantastic “Leave it All to Burn,” it positioned Posthum as a nice sidebar to their home country’s unflinching legacy. But rather than expand upon Lights Out, the band has otherwise hunkered down in familiar territory with The Black Northern Ritual, which as its title alludes, is relatively safe.

With a mid-tempo plod being the primary direction for these songs (would like for these gents to lay out some speed-busting blasts every now and then), The Black Northern Ritual starts to congeal as soon as the third cut, “To the Pits” takes place. The riff selection courtesy of Jon Skare and Mats Kjeserud is largely uniform, relying heavily on those weird, out-there chord combinations that modern-day Satryicon seem to be so fond of, just without the basic 4/4 rock element. Therefore, the latent extremity found on opener “Demon Black Skies,” the title track, and album standout “A Disappearing Sun” don’t exactly inspire visions of glorious wintry landscapes, yet they don’t soil the picture either.

Because The Black Northern Ritual lacks the personality and on-and-off persuasion of its predecessor, it’s not reach to say this trio have taken a step backward. Granted, no one is barking out orders for a true-blue Norwegian/American black/post-black mash-up, but Posthum probably could have gone down that path and made some noise for themselves. It makes sense: The band doesn’t go the corpse-paint route, stays away from the played-out Satanic themes, and can peak a melody when they feel like it. Oh what could have been.

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