T he 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 are different, so much different.
The Italian band saddles you with a pretty sticky, ceremonial brand of Blackened Doom Metal in Tetragrammaton. The real stuff – kind of. 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, 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 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. Moving fast down the muddy waters of the dark river 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 – at first at least – make the record sound like a badly executed new version of the soundtrack of The 9th Gate with a hint of Electric Wizard. And this feeling to dwell in some sort of old, scratchy horror movie leaves a somewhat cheesy and ugly taste in your mouth.
The intensity of it all just lingers on the brink of overkill. And for some listeners, this may very well be pushing the envelope some. Luckily, there are clearer and crustier passages on Tetragrammaton that will make up for it.
And did I say Doom Metal?
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 to rake 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 strung 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 was sacrificed. We will never know. And it is indeed true: Riti Occulti decided not to use lead and rhythm guitars. One bass guitar performs string work on steroids, with a mastering effort by Niccolò Tricarico instead. You’ll get bludgeoned around the ears by this heavy, downturned, ever-droning guitar sound at every instant in the album.
The fact that no electric lead guitar is soaring about the soundscape is creating this authentic, dusty and dark atmosphere that is very fitting to the overall occult theme. 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 is artfully woven 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.
Riti Occulti created a powerful, dissonant and strangely disturbing piece of work. Featuring a doomish 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.