Void Ritual – Heretical Wisdom

2014. Albuquerque, NM. Daniel Jackson records Holodomor, an EP containing polished but fairly old-school second wave black metal. It is released by Tridroid Records, and receives much praise from all over the metal internet. It was followed by a split with Scotland’s Barshasketh, also lauded and generally appreciated.

Present day. It’s debut album time, and with the able assistance of Throats Productions and (again) Tridroid Records, Void Ritual is about to hit the market with full length Heretical Wisdom. The album cover is of the type once popular among certain Swedish black metal bands – think Gates of Ishtar – and could basically belong on a heavy metal record, were it not for the logo, font and (perhaps) subject matter. It actually gives a rather good idea of what kind of music we can expect.

Void Ritual is very melodic, and mixes blasting parts with double kick drum mid-tempo parts, during which the guitars grind out nicely written melodies. At times things are slightly more evil-sounding, at times more straight up melodic metal. Prophanity, early Setherial, early Swordmaster… The list does become long, Swedish and full of the repeated use of the adjective “early”, if you want a general idea of this album through comparisons. Satyricon’s The Shadowthrone also rears its blackened head somewhat, though it is highly possible that many of the aforementioned influences have been indirect. There is no sense of copy catting here, except in the sense that good black metal always (according to Archaic Triad dogma) follow many subtle precepts and principles inherent to the genre.

In the title track “Heretical Wisdom” we find some semi-folk elements, further cementing the validity of our The Shadowthrone comparison. It’s one hell of a catchy tune. “The Maelstrom” lives up to its name by increasing the speed significantly, waving goodbye to the surrounding world in a stream of shredding Scandi-riffing, at times almost approaching Impaled Nazarene at their rare melodic moments. Another favorite is closer “Nachzehrer”, whose quite basic, “Over Fjell og Gjennom Torner” riffing and structure successfully build an atmosphere of nightly drinking and general distaste for the human condition.

Void Ritual has got this down. While sticking very closely to the principles of (one type of) black metal, Heretical Wisdom is not exactly a retro experience either. The production is anything but overdone, but it’s got more flesh and bass than many old-school BM albums, and the overall composition is tight and impressive. The fast drum work, the searing guitars and the diverse – though always aggressive – vocal styles make for one hell of a classical black metal experience.

While it is released on August 18th, the tape version of this bad boy is already available for pre-order from Tridroid records. For CD and digital download, I suspect you shall have to turn to Throat Productions in due time. The band also has a Facebook page with a decent update tempo.

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