DEATHCHAIN remained a band that I kept an eye on, but rarely felt driven towards until the release of their 2010 monster “Death Gods.” The band was always good, probably deserved more credit as a Death/Thrash act then they were given, but it was that album that really made me take notice. With the release of their latest record “Ritual Death Metal” though, these Finnish Death Thrashers are taking their sound to whole new levels…and whole new textures.
Despite the band seeming to finally punctuate their Death/Thrash sound on the previous record, the focus of “Ritual Death Metal” is one of atmosphere and space. The band definitely has kept intact their Death Metal riffing, deep guttural vocal attacks, and Thrashy energy on tracks like the bombarding “Stele Ov The Vultures” or the wicked fast and memorable “Seven Asakku Shadows” with its double bass drum ankle breaking moments, but these frantic assaults seem to take a back seat to the atmosphere of the record and only hold on as a foundational element to build upon.
There is almost a Black Metal like aesthetic on this record. It opens with this haunting piano melody to kick off the record and the raw production with occasionally snarling vocals give the record a bit more of that Blackened vibe. This is pushed further by the increased presence of mid tempo Doomy tracks like “Our Lady Under The Earth” with its melancholic leads and dinosaur heavy tempo. It's a thick and palpable atmosphere that continues throughout the rest of the record and consumes many of their more aggressive moments. It was an aethetic choice that seemingly came out of nowhere that I didn't expect. “Ritual Death Metal” just has this unique sound unlike the rest of DEATHCHAIN’s albums and it makes for a rather intriguing listen for both fans and those new to the band.
Although “Ritual Death Metal” might not be the streamlined awesomeness that “Death Gods” was, it’s a fascinating turn of style for the usually cut and dry Finnish underground titans. It didn’t necessarily tickle my fancy as much as it might some people, but the atmospheric and raw style of the record certainly showcases that the band has greater artistic merit than originally thought.
(Online April 22, 2013)