Plague-Ridden Kingdom EP
Swedish gothrockers Ritual Reaper will release its occult-themed debut "Plague-Ridden Kingdom" EP on June 24th. Bearing a distant resemblance with the last days of Malaise (RR is a side project of its guitarist Juho Korhonen), what Pallbearer, Demonizer and Reverend offer has more to do with their compatriots Dawn of Oblivion and Equinox ov the Gods. In fact, this material sounds like a rightly balanced merger of the three aforementioned names with a twisted hard rock approach (like a doomy version of Tenebre) and, moreover, imbued by subtle 70's and stoner rock influences. So, the four tracks featured here will be sexy as hell for battle-hardened goths. Let's go deeper throghout them...
From the first seconds of "Cold Evil (Megaton Aftermath)" on, the stomping drum beats and even some cool cymbal patterns lay the foundation for every infectious riff and guitar hook, of which these tunes are full of. Some keyboard melodies swirl around the sections, though they never take precedence over the distorted powerchord rhythms, the forbidding drum thuds and the moody bass lines). Above all, deep, high quality-wise vocals (by no less than O-kult former singer, Mattias Thornesköld) reveal the shades underneath the catchy structure. You can smell the fuel and feel the grit of a lost highway through the fiery riffing of "Devil's Ritual". This track utilizes stretched out chords and tribal drums to set the mood before amping up the power. The song is expansive in its sound when operating in its slowest moments, and the constantly slithers soloing adds a bit of fire to the mix. In parallel, the singer switches between harsh and clear tones which become harrowing near the end. Coming with bass cranky grumbles and drilling guitars, "Ancient Annunaki" makes its threatening appearence. It's stoner backboned but also the symphonic synth-enveloping drives the track further into ominous soundscapes when the pace is recessed. "Golden Goat" follows, dropping into massive, throbbing riffs and creepy keyboards, while the voice becomes more sinister pounding like a hammer in their lyrical delivery. After a slow-paced break, mournful and dreamy, the song rips into guitar-soloing passages over the last third. Then, the crowning moment comes with "Mirrors Of Tavern Hell". Haunting piano notes and vintage metal riffing introduce this evolving tune, which provides such a masquerade infernale vibe. Omnipresent keyboards, enchanting female chorus and versatile vocals surround with a dramatic atmosphere the metallic core, which brings together the very best of the nineties doom splits. Varied moods, well-managed tempo changes and evocative programming keep the things even more attractive.
Ritual Reaper provides a throbbing, explosive-cored goth, with a healthy dose of opulent synth ambiances and retro guitar soundscapes. Their debut EP "Plague-Ridden Kingdom" oozes north, rites and rock from every sound. Auspicious credentials to put both eyes on them.
Review by Billyphobia