Year of release: 2020
Released by: Ridge ov Dragon
Rating: 7,2 / 10
Before us is the debut album of FUNERAL RITES, a Russian group that has long been known to the main circle of readers of Bagnik Zine: to someone because of personal acquaintance, to someone thanks to performances with KRUK in Russia, and to someone because of the fact that Eucharist from PESTILENTIA is a lead vocalist in here. For me, “Rite of Damnation” has become an absolute novelty, since I have never heard the music of Muscovites before. The name, which refers to the classics from SEPULTURA, as well as the general aesthetics and direction of the band, made me absolutely confident that I would hear occult-ritual Black Metal in the vein of the Swedes. However, “Rite of Damnation” turned out to be anything but that.
The album, being 100% Black Metal, is surprisingly melodic nonetheless. From time to time, even a distant echo of Heavy Metal slips in it, but the bulk reminds, say, of the later works of SATANIC WARMASTER, only without keys. The music is very lively and rhythmic. The buzzing, creeping sound evil with heart-rending recitations on top (that's what I expected) is not there at all. Even good guitar solos are included! However, the most expressive feature of the album is its construction as such. Both the lyrics and the music contain countless references to the classics of Black and other Metal: somewhere absolutely obvious, and somewhere well-hidden. I admit that some of them may have been drawn by my brain overloaded with near-musical information, but still there are a lot of them. For example, the song “Hand of Glory” uses part of the opening riff from the aforementioned “Funeral Rites”. The title of the song “Summoning the Funeral Winds”, I think, came about for a reason. True - here's the bad luck - on the backdrop it is marked as “Summoning the Wind of Death”. Or even take eloquent English-language texts (not devoid of a couple of grammatical errors), where you come across modified lines from BURZUM. The guitarist's pseudonym, Black Moon, echoes that of the former, now dead, DARK FUNERAL musician. And so on and so forth.
The above does not mean that FUNERAL RITES, as if beggars deprived of self-respect, stole other people's ideas and passed them off as their own. Not at all; partly it's a tribute of respect, but somewhere a tribute to traditions or just an old-school Black Metal way of thinking. After all, even the lyrics to the album are in their own way unsophisticated: they are loud, apocalyptic, a little naive and completely devoid of the mysterious wisdom characteristic of modern Black Metal occultists and pretenders. As in the old days. And in music, apart from the aforementioned riff, you will not find a single explicit borrowing. FUNERAL RITES 'creative efforts were enough to competently interpret their rich sources of inspiration and write good songs. They failed to immediately invent their own style, but this is probably still to come. At least, the group shouldn't worry about improving the playing technique. The album is excellently performed. They began to record it already in 2015, and, as evidenced by the layout, the parts of the guitars and bass were later re-recorded. Recording, mixing and mastering have been made in different places, and this affected the final sound. Let's just say I heard a better sound, but I heard worse, too.
The physical release from Ridge of Dragon is a fold-out digisleeve on matte paper with an insert. Budgetary but neat. The texts are placed on the spread and are quite readable. Details on a video. I would compare my final impression of the album to a Bengal candle. It flashes sharply, burns brightly, attracting attention, and just as abruptly goes out, leaving behind a fleeting smell of smoke. Either the duration of 26 minutes is too short, or the music simply lacks a consistent movement to its logical conclusion. The last song is not fundamentally different from the others. You can shuffle the tracklist as you like, but the impression will not change, and in the end there will still be a feeling of shortage.