Ritualistic – Hollowborn (Self-Released)

Monday, 22nd June 2020
Rating: 8.5/10

The ding against many tech death bands in recent times (from this scribe at least) has been the lack of brutality and feeling in the music. Instead bands rely upon ‘wowing’ the listening with over the top tech bursts and end up forgetting about delivering a song that grabs you by the throat with aggression. Thankfully, someone forgot to inform Ritualistic of this trend, and their full-length debut Hollowborn is all the better for it.

In all honesty, the tech tag might be in a bit of disservice to Ritualistic, as their music stretches much further than that. There’s everything from straight-up grooves to melodic injections to even some light slam elements (“Beyond” has some visceral chugs). In other words, there’s a wealth of different things going on in the music, but most importantly, Ritualistic can bring the anger. Death metal is meant to be abrasive, and even with some playful high-speed melodies and tech-y moments, Ritualistic stays in your face. “Ashen Blood” is a driving and energetic example, with thrashy tempos and blastbeats, with intricate melodies and a gorgeous solo later blended in effectively, teasing your ears while they do their best to smash your face so to speak. “Illusion of Choice” is monstrous and oppressive in its mid-tempo stomping, but also manages to fire off some punchy bursts of energy and lacing the stomping with intriguing melodies. To showcase a more melodic side, “Call of Morbidity” has one of those raise your fist moments of triumph, something usually relegated to melodeath or atmospheric black metal, but it works quite well in the track’s later half.

An impressive, come out from nowhere type of release (the band has only a previous EP) that should offer plenty of appeal to death metal fans, Hollowborn is brutal and memorable. Ritualistic are a promising act that understand you have to keep the ‘death’ part of death metal at the forefront of your sound.

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