The north-east of England has already given us a bruising record from the mighty Osiah, and now it’s the turn of Newcastle quartet, Rituals, to prove that they can write heavy music at the other end of the spectrum. Though not as menacing as the Sunderland deathcore slammers, Rituals have a devastating armoury of drop-tuned riffs to whet your appetite and enough confidence in their chorus delivery to persuade you of a bright future ahead.
These days the world has too many metalcore bands with Linkin Park choruses and djent leanings vying for our attention in a saturated scene. Separating the worthy from the landfill dross is no easy task these days, but the opening title track should be enough to get the thumbs up once you hear the primal aggression in the first ten seconds. You could be forgiven for thinking this is a New York metallic hardcore band before the inevitable clean vocals burst forth for the chorus. Then you can make the comparisons to more established UK bands like From Sorrow to Serenity and The Five Hundred. Rituals play hard and pack plenty of muscle underneath the crunchy guitar heroics and sprinkle the last minute with sporadic piano slashes. You can even tolerate the melodic chorus after a couple of spins and once you have an appreciation for the brutal guitar riffing.
‘Turn Away from the Sun’ is the band’s most recent single and one that takes its time to grow on you. The pseudo-nu metal hook doesn’t help, but the pulverising bass reverberations and use of a choir in the middle eight compensate for this shortcoming. Delivering a chorus in a flat tenor voice is risky, but the vocal lines are strong enough to see it over the line. This one will surprise you how much you like it after a couple of listens. ‘Blinding to Me’ does the opposite. It’s the only predictable song on the EP, despite a monstrous post-chorus mosh and an effective use of panned guitars in each ear. Here the vibe is one of melancholy rather than white hot aggression, and you begin to wonder if this is the same band that started the record with a savage blast of hardcore.
Fortunately, ‘Carved Out’ sees Rituals return to the menace of their opening track with a head-spin of rapid open-string riffing and bludgeoning drum hits. This one will remind you of Ghost Iris, although the decision to approach the verses with clean vocals is brave when the guitars are so brutal on the downstrokes. A heavier dose of screaming and growling is what we need here, not less.
Rituals are already doing a lot of things right on this EP and promise to get heavier with each record. Their rhythmic foundations are strong, but their song-writing credentials are still in flux, which is normal for a band in their position of growth and development. Maybe a dabble in grindcore or symphonic metal could take them to the next level on their debut album.
Release Date: 03/09/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Awake, Carved Out
Suggested Further Listening: From Sorrow to Serenity – Trifecta EP (2021), The Five Hundred – A World on Fire (2021), This Dying Hour – Fire and the Blind EP (2021)