Reviews NunFuckRitual In Bondage To The Serpent

NunFuckRitual

In Bondage To The Serpent


Just look at that album cover. It's stuff like this, guys, that explain why we can't have nice things. Good thing I'm not religious, or I'd cry blasphemy in a heartbeat. Thankfully for my interest in black metal, I possess no easily offended sensibilities and can share with you the shockingly-named NunFuckRitual. Given that all of the band members have worked with some pretty big-name bands in the past (yes, that's Dan Lilker, founding member of Anthrax), I had some pretty high expectations for this album.

The music paces itself just shy of languid, making the entire thing seem (appropriately) quite doom-oriented and lethargic. It's a very grave record, with the extremely underdeveloped and repetitive guitar lines actually adding a lot of weight to the music. It reminds heavily of Neurosis' Through Silver in Blood, except with ghostly bestial wails instead of bagpipes (actually, I suppose they more or less sound like the same thing). It's easy to imagine this being the music of a demonic ritual, or at least a particularly depressing serpent's Bar Mitzvah. At times, it does seem like it meanders a bit too much without exactly arriving anywhere; the bookends of "Christokos", for example, seem to drag on forever. Don't get me wrong, though; it's impressive when it does get to where it's going. The meat of "Christokos" sounds like a Satanic hymnal (points for the very meted and effective use of the organ), and "Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore" is one of the more haunting gothic-esque metal tracks I've heard. Just imagine Sunn O))) or early Boris played at tenfold tempo and you won't be far off.

The vocals are the only thing I object to strongly. Seemingly going for quantity over quality, there are a couple of different growling styles experimented with, exactly zero of which resonate well. The screams on "Theotokos" seem entirely too whiny to really catch, the sprechstimme bass speech on "Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen" sounds like the belches of a toad being hit with a cinderblock (the lyric "I'm exploding" has never been more literal), and I had to crank the volume to hear what was going on for most of "Christokos". Some of that is forgivable, I suppose--I can't fault anyone for valuing ambiance and style over accessibility. But that doesn't forgive them being as aurally displeasing as they are.

Though the record is much less sophomoric than I expected from the artist name and album cover (yeah yeah, "don't judge a book" and all that), it seems like a moderately impressive result at best. The music is enjoyable enough, but it often meanders entirely too far without actually going much of anywhere. Mere casual black metal fans like myself probably won't find much of interest here, but those with a more refined taste in the genre may find it more rewarding.

7.0 / 10Sarah
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7.0 / 10

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