Genre: Doom Black / Death Metal
Country: Belgium
Label: Dunkelheit Produktionen
Release: 01/11/2018

While searching for something to soothe the pain the heat wave causes, I stumbled upon a not so fresh though truly astonishing release from a Belgian band called Rituals of The Dead Hand; the album is entitled “Blood Oath”, it’s the band’s debut and it will probably knock the socks off of any extreme metal enthusiast.

To start with, Rituals Of The Dead Hand were formed by two members of the Belgian instrumental post-rock band Hemelbestormer; Lykaios on bass, guitars and vocals and Isangrim on drums, keyboards and samples. After the release of their second album, Filip Dupont aka Lykaios, felt the urge to dive back in the swamp and dwell in that mysterious Epic Black / Death genre his former band Gorath were known for. Now, back to the album. What we’re dealing with is an assemblage of absolutely heavy and soul-crushing riffs, which in league with the continuous pummel on the drums, create an otherworldly atmosphere that’s even intensified by the varied vocal deliveries. Despite Doom Black / Death being the epicenter of the band’s compositions, one can easily distinguish a touch of sludge here and there, while various samples and keyboard passages make their appearance just to spice things up. Moreover, while “Blood Oath” follows a certain pattern of rhythm, there are times when swampy yet fast explosions and other kinds of rhythm alternations keep the album safe from peddling repetitions. The overall aftertaste I have after all the hearing sessions is a feeling that there’s always someone lurking in the dark, thus I hold the opinion that “Black Oath” should at some point be used as a movie soundtrack (you know, a movie with Tura Satana fighting evil looters for example). Talking about looters, “Blood Oath” is considered to be a concept album as far as the lyrical themes go, following the Buckriders mythos, or “Bokkenrijders” in their native tongue; The Buckriders, are a part of Belgian and Dutch folklore, ghosts or demons, who rode through the sky on the back of flying goats provided to them by the Devil, with whom they had a pact, during the 18th century. Essentially, they were a bunch of various gangs and thieves who kept the southern parts of Holland under their thumb. Quite fascinating, ain’t it?

The tracks were recorded throughout 2017 and were mastered by Patrick Engel at the Temple of Disharmony studios. The album came as an elegant digipack CD and a 12’’ vinyl (of 500 copies), along with a digital release as the era commands.

A second album will follow soon by the Rituals Of The Dead Hand; as far as I know they’re already done with the guitars and by the end of summer all the rest will fall into place as well. Hopefully we’ll listen to something equally – if not more – devastating. Really dig those guys!

5.5/6