I’m gonna be honest with you guys. I chose to listen to this album purely based on its album cover. I mean, that there is a very attractive woman who’s got only a tiny little cross to cover herself with. Plus the picture has a strong vibe of a b-grade horror flick. So yeah, that is the reason I started listening to Abhor’s upcoming full length ‘Ritualia Stramonium’. Of the many bands that call themselves Abhor, this particular one hails from Italy and have been conducting black metal rituals for about 20 years now. ‘Ritualia Stramonium’ will be the band’s sixth full length and it will be released through Moribund Records.
The black metal played by Abhor is one that is ritualistic and occult themed. There are no face melting tremolos and soul wrenching screams here. The music does not take a melodic approach either, nor is there any hint of progression. What we do get is mid paced black metal that sounds like satanic gospels, rich in the occult factor. In order to pull off something along these lines, a band has got to have the necessary song writing skills. Unfortunately, that is something Abhor lacks.
The album starts well with ‘Between Flames and Moon’, an enjoyable black metal tune. The synthesizers that sound like church organs are a nice addition to the atmosphere. The tracks that follow this sound too similar for their own good, barely offering any variety. The vocals are good when it is snarled. But for most parts on this record, the vocals are grumbled. The attempt at growling / croaking combined with the fact that it sits so low in the mix results in the vocals sounding like the rumbling of a food deprived stomach.
The songwriting on the record is just too bland to carry off a sound like this. The tracks all sound very similar, making it hard to distinguish one from the other. The production does not help the album’s cause either. The church organ like keyboards are given prime importance which results in the guitars and other elements sounding pale in comparison. The only other track that stands out in this record is ‘The Chant of the Owl’ which is interesting with the owl hoots being added into the mix. But one has to get through six similar sounding tracks to get to this one.
‘Ritualia Stramonium’ does not age like fine communion wine. With each listen, the weakness of the record becomes more and more apparent. I guess there is a lesson to be learn from all this. Never judge an album based on the tits shown on the cover.