Riti Occulti – Tetragrammaton (2016) – Review

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The Occvltists are on the loose again. Earlier in 2016, RockmusicRaider already covered ritual metal, Black Metal style to be precise – with Darkend. But Riti Occulti dance to a different tune. Exceedingly different.

The Italian band saddles you with a pretty sticky ceremonial brand of Blackened Doom Metal in Tetragrammaton. Stuff that sounds genuine and authentic. But hey, if you don’t believe me, check out the video below.

As the title suggests, Riti Occulti dive deep into Kabbalistic lore. The record does follow a pretty sturdy theme and logical flow, backed by corny lyrics that are pure cult. But I leave it to the specialists of the occult to figure out where this is all heading.

In its own geeky way, Tetragrammaton is remarkable.

The somewhat hypnotic and repetitive background drone – prevalent throughout the album – will put its icy hooks into you first. And this is seemingly one of the hallmarks of this delivery. Then follows the relentless overuse of the bass (more to that later). The eerily disjointed chanting and the scratchy dissonant quality of the tracks will take care of the rest.

All of that really sets the scene for the upcoming ritual that you are about to witness. And all that soundscape on Tetragrammaton strangely envelopes the listener, making him or her for sure feel part of the ritual the band is currently performing.

But, this also conveys that weird sense of a disconnected reality. Something that moves fast down the muddy waters of that dark river, straight towards insanity. In other words, the record is messing with your brain after a while. And this is really juicy, come to think of it.

On the downside, this will – mainly at first – make the record sound like a badly executed new version of the soundtrack of The 9th Gate with a hint of Electric Wizard. And you’ll get this feeling to dwell in some sort of old, scratchy horror movie that leaves a somewhat cheesy and ugly taste in your mouth.

The intensity of it all just teeters on the edge of overkill. And for some listeners, this may very well push the envelope some. Luckily, there are clearer and crustier passages on Tetragrammaton that will make up for it. 

And did I say Doom Metal?

RockmusicRaider Review - Riti Occulti 2016

Yep. Doom is indeed the underlying genre. But it is also mixed into a blurry concoction of Pink Floyd-esque psychedelic elements. Industrial and ambient metal bits and some stoner keyboard sets weirdly commingle into the fray. All this ends up in a hypnotic, diabolical potion that – once you are committed – risks raking your brain senseless.

In other words and as suggested before, dissonance is rife in the band’s third full-length album Tetragrammaton. You will find no nice, whitewashed atmospheric melodies in there. All of that sound is brutally strings together, glued kind of helter-skelter, caulked and kept afloat by the double female front.

And yes, you heard that one right: Serena Mastracco for the decidedly male-scented screams and Elisabetta Marchetti for clear vocals. ‘Tis a very special, down-in-the-pit interpretation of the Beauty and the Beast. The growls are – by the way – first-rate and vary from rasps to screams depending on the topic.

The band does not feature a lead guitarist.

Or perhaps the poor guy fell victim to a Black Mass and ended as a sacrifice. We will never know, of course. But it is indeed true. Riti Occulti decided against the use of lead and rhythm guitars. One bass guitar performs string work on steroids, with a mastering effort by Niccolò Tricarico instead. The band will slam that around your ears with this heavy, downturned, ever-droning guitar sound at every instant in the album.

The fact that no electric lead guitar soars about the soundscape creates this authentic, dusty, and dark atmosphere that fits the overall occult theme like the altar to the chalice. Needless to say that this specialty of Riti Occulti creates this lure that will make you go for seconds. Even if the fare is pretty heavy and difficult to stomach.

Now a word to keyboards and synthesizers.

The occasional teeth grinding 70’s sound apart, anything electronic artfully fits into this dark fabric. Always there, kind of in the background, but at the same time still at the forefront, like a friggin’ paradox. In effect, all instruments used are skilfully supporting the two vocalists, forceful as needed, in the background when so required.

To conclude: 

Riti Occulti created a powerful, dissonant, and strangely disturbing piece of work. Featuring a doomy brand of Ritual Metal that will somehow get into your bloodstream. Their style does not appear to be based on sadness and lament as proper Doom Metal usually demands. But on occult anger and desolation that is prevalent around every bend on this road down into their very special idea of hell.

In the end, Tetragrammaton is an utterly fascinating piece of Extreme Metal. It will need some patience from the fan crowd to get digested, but once it sinks in, it is a perfect companion for a long, dark, cultish evening. Just keep your hands off that Ouija Board. Or else.  

Ed’s note: Riti Occulti disbanded in September 2017. And this is a pity, their style was pretty unique. And somewhat scary in and by itself. So far, only Elisabetta Marchetti appeared on our radar again, mainly for her involvement in Inno and Shores of Null. Oh, and if you yearn for more bass madness, try Coma Hole.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Nordavind Records / Triton’s Orbit | Web: Facebook
Release date: 7 October 2016

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