Destruction Ritual
[Red Stream]

One of the longer-running US black metal outfits returns with a new full-length album--sort of. The songs were written and guitars recorded back in 1998-1999, with drums (live drums courtesy of Judas Iscariot's session-hammer Cryptic Winter) and vocals added in 2001. It's raw, harsh, and violent, but with much more of a traditional (for black metal) structure to it than the band's first album, Rise of the Imperial Hordes. There are even some more melodic sections (not unlike parts of the latest Judas Iscariot album, actually, but not in a rip-off type of way) breaking things up. Lord Imperial's guitar skills are quite advanced, and his vocals are as disgusting and harsh as ever. The live drums by Crypic Winter deserve special mention because of the speed and sheer precision of them. If there's any gripe to be had with this album, it's the lack of bass. While I'm all for not following tradition just for tradition's sake (and Imperial specifically mentions that no bass was used on the album), considering the cleanness of the drums and the somewhat-thin guitar sound, there's a huge hole in the sound between the booming of the drums (the only real low-end instrument present) and the guitars/vocals; even when you crank it way up you can't hear everything very well. Then again, maybe that's the point; it does leave a bit of the music to mystery, and it is a unique approach to recording. Fans of the band and of later Judas Iscariot should get this.

2003 lord vic