There is a lot of scholarship devoted to determining which monstrosity in the Book of Revelations is its titular "Beast." Revelation 11:7 introduces us to a creature that rises from the abyss (or the sea… it's somewhat unclear), a mysterious creature, adorned with crowns and proclaiming blasphemy. The second contender emerges from the ground and immediately gets down to business, hyping up the first creature to any weak-minded monarch who will listen. They're both referred interchangeable as "The Beast" and they both get owned, HARD, by Jesus at the end (spoiler warning). Getting completely served by someone's lord and savior is not likely to be the fate of the band, Beast of Revelation, though. In fact, despite the world being in the grips of perpetual war and a growing pandemic, the reason that we haven't heard a peep from old Nazarene is probably because he caught wind these guys were coming, and will be spending the next thousand years trying to scrub some embracing stains out of his robes as a result.
Beast of Revelation is a doom-death band. Yes, you heard right. Doom-death, not death-doom. Death metal with a grievous, petulant mood of sorrow about it, rather than simply doom metal with death vocals and blast beats. More specifically, Beast of Revelation is a maelstrom of pain that swirls around songwriter, guitarist and bassist A.J. van Drenth (who you may know from Temple, Throne, and Beyond Belief), whose madness and arcane mastery of melancholy have given him the power and foresight to summon from the depths two great and foul beasts, whose wretchedness rivals his own. I'm speaking of course about Incantation vocalist John McEntee and hammersmith drummer Bob Bagchus (who you may know from Asphyx, Hellehond, Infidel Reich, Grand Supreme Blood Court, or Soulburn -– take your pick). The Ancient Ritual of Death is their debut album, and it is cripplingly brutal, and transcendently sad. It's astounding how layered the guitars sound, especially when they're the product of a singular Drenth wielding the axe. The vocals are gruesome and phlegmy, animalistic and devoid of humanity, drawing inspiration from a dark, forbidden place that I am surprised McEntee, even with is considerable experience, can enter and draw inspiration from without becoming trapped and torn limb from limb. The atmosphere, too, it is dense and all-consuming, enveloping the listener in a haze of uncanny dread, profane imagery, and inescapable, overwhelming decay.
Opener "Legion" leaps from the shadows like cenobite hooks, ensnaring you in the curvature of its teeth, so that it may drag you across an obsidian plane to a plodding fatalistic beat. "The Great Tribulation" is an orgy of wicked unearthly tortures in a pit of thorny blues riffs and bowl-purging vocal retches. Long, hateful study of Winter informs the cold, windburn passages of "The Days of Vengeance" while "The Unholy Roman Empire" layers in ominous, shrieking guitars to ramp up its pitiless tension. The album's pinnacle is its title track, which feels like a desolate hike through the belly of hell and along the lake of fire, with all the pandemonium that this scornful journey would imply. The Ancient Ritual of Death an arresting and transportive debut that will take you places that you may not be able to return from with your sanity.
Mick is always writing about something he's heard. Possibly even something you'd like. You can read his stuff over at I Thought I Heard a Sound Blog.
7.5 / 10
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