I’m not particularly sure what I just listened to, or if it was good or not. For that matter, I don’t exactly know what genre this is either. It seems to be somewhat black metal but the guitar tone is way too deep, reaching doom metal levels throughout most of it, and nothing else in the album has any sort of black metal traces to it either than the occasional blast beats. I want to call this “heavy metal” in the sense that it’s heavy and it sure is metal, but it’s pretty obvious why I can’t do that.
The album itself is I guess mediocre, consisting of repetitive, ritualistic chugathons that toe the line between dark and foreboding, to really fucking boring. I get that this is what Rotting Christ was going for, I really do. It’s called Rituals for a reason, and beyond the various bits of ethnic ritual music influences, it does accomplish the goal of sounding like an attempt to summon satan. Though it’s more like an attempt to summon satan by a 16 year old goth kid whose parents happen to have lots of money, in order to get revenge on the bullies at school. That is, they’re just saying a bunch of random evil shit and hoping it sticks. Seriously some of the lyrics are pretty damn cliché from the ones I did actually manage to catch over the entirely brickwalled production, at least the ones in english.
Above anything though, the album is just really fucking empty. Not like sonically, but musically. It’s a 49 minute album that seems to last 15. You start it up, realize nothing is going on, then before you know it you’re on the last track. A lot of that is because of the said production, but some of it is because the actual ritual atmosphere feels a bit forced. Now I realize that I shit on a lot of high budget acts for feeling “false”, or not super sincere. However I feel like it’s totally possible to both make something that is very well produced, while still feeling totally natural and not forced. A great example would be Panopticon. It’s obvious that that band has money and the means of producing well-polished material, but nothing feels like it’s trying too hard. Here, Rotting Christ distinctly sounds like an old band that’s trying really hard to experiment, but doesn’t quite know how.
I’m not even really sure if the experiment totally failed or not, because as I said before, I completely understand and follow what the band is trying to do. However while Rituals passes the test of execution, it passes with a C-, rather than with flying colors.